Saturday, July 19, 2008

UN: Security Council Extends Terms of ICTR Judges

Yesterday, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1824, which extends the terms of office of nine permanent and seventeen ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The terms of two of the permanent judges, who sit on the Appeals Chamber, were extended through 2010. The terms of the remaining permanent and ad litem judges were extended through 2009 to allow for the completion of all trials. (UN press release, with the text of the Resolution, here.) The Council's action, which responds to a request by ICTR President Dennis Byron (here), recognizes that the ICTR will not complete all its trials by the end of 2008, as had been envisioned by the Council's completion strategy (see Resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004)). Resolutions 1684 (2006) and 1717 (2006) had previously extended the terms of the ICTR's judges through the end of this year. A week ago, on July 11, the General Assembly had also approved the extension of the judges' terms. Since the Tribunal's Statute does not include a provision on the extension of judicial terms, it was the view of the Secretary-General, at least, that both General Assembly and Security Council approval was necessary. Security Council approval was necessary as the ICTR was created by the Council, controls its Statute, and nominates its judges; General Assembly approval was necessary as the GA elects the judges and controls the Tribunal's budget. On July 10, the General Committee of the General Assembly rejected a similar move (apparently made at the request of the ICTY's President, Fausto Pocar) to extend the terms of the ICTY's judges after the representative of the Russian Federation questioned the need to take action at this time, more than a year before the terms expire.