The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: A Paper Umbrella in the Rain? Initial Pitfalls and Brighter Prospects


The tragedy which befell Rwanda in 1994 deserves a special place in the bloodstained pages of history. The Rwandan genocide merits distinction primarily because of its shocking efficiency, its scale and its proportional dimensions among the victim population. The Security Council's resolution establishing the ICTR articulates a set of decisions, assumptions, wishes, and objectives. Primarily, the States that voted in favour of the creation of the ICTR indicated that the root of the problem was individual violations of international criminal law. Only one State that voted for the resolution did not equate ipso facto ICTR actions with justice. That State considered the ICTR only one of the many tasks at hand for the international community. The ICTR was merely a vehicle of justice, ‘but it is hardly designed as a vehicle for reconciliation.... Reconciliation is a much more complicated process’ (Czech Republic). Interestingly, Rwanda, which voted against the resolution, spoke of the problem in terms of a culture of impunity. The UN paid little to no heed to the subtle, but extremely different way in which the problem was characterised and the implications this would have on the type of tool needed to deal with that problem.


Human Rights Law

Date of this Version

May 2006