International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia

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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was an ad-hoc international criminal tribunal established in 1993 by the United Nations Security Council to prosecute the war crimes that occurred during the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s. It was the first international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo war criminal tribunals.  

According to the ICTY Statute, it had jurisdiction to prosecute individuals on four categories of crimes: violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, transgression of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity. All natural persons and organizations of the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including land surface, airspace, and territorial waters, were subjected to the ICTY’s jurisdiction.

The ICTY was officially closed by the United Nations on December 31, 2017. During its 24 years, the ICTY conducted 10,800 trial days, receiving testimonies from 4,650 witnesses and sentencing 161 individuals.

The most notorious cases before the ICTY were the criminal proceedings against former Serbian presidents Slobodan Milošević and Radovan Karadžić. Former country leaders were charged with international war crimes for the first time after the Tokyo War Tribunals. 

See: Updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

See also: UNSC, Report on the Completion Strategy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, UN Doc. S/2017/1001, (November 29, 2017).

[Last updated in May of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]