Review Essay: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Post- Genocide Justice 25 Years On
European Journal of International Law, Forthcoming
25 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2020
Date Written: June 12, 2020
2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and of the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). After prosecuting 73 people, including high-ranking politicians and military leaders, the Rwanda Tribunal closed its doors in 2015. Together with its sister tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the ICTR is considered one of the first-generation ad hoc tribunals mandated to bring justice to countries emerging from conflict. This review essay examines four books to take stock of the scholarly debate on the ICTR’s performance. After analyzing the Tribunal’s achievements and shortcomings, it explains that scholarly assessments of the ICTR rely on two different analytical lenses – a national and/or international perspective – to make claims about the roles of international criminal tribunals. The essay then discusses the ICTR’s interactions with other post-genocide justice mechanisms in Rwanda and the compatibility of concurrent judicial responses to mass violence. In conclusion, it suggests that evolving interpretations of the ICTR’s performance reflect prevailing ideas about the goals and limitations of international criminal tribunals.
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