Independence and Autonomy of "Ad Hoc International</I> Criminal Tribunals
International criminal tribunals are very specific institutions. They are courts and as such their main task is to administer justice and to judge the perpetrators of the most horrendous crimes of our times, mostly war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In this respect, they are instruments of justice, like any other criminal court. But at the same time, international criminal tribunals are international institutions, created by states, alliances of states, or international organisations. They are therefore subject to power politics, political influences and international bargaining; their final institutional design and the content of their rules is the result of compromises between states. By creating specific tribunals, states try to anticipate possible outcomes of the prosecutors’ actions and the judges’ verdicts; they introduce institutional, financial and legal safeguards in order to prevent the tribunal from infringing their interests. International criminal tribunals are special. In contrast to municipal courts, they are not embedded in a stable, traditional and commonly known legal system; they cannot resort to coercion without seeking the assistance of a state, and they do not have efficient means to compel hesitant governments and state agencies to comply with their orders. Much of their actual power comes from the prestige and the support of the public, which they often enjoy. In the past international criminal tribunals have often been instruments of victor’s justice, but this, surprisingly, did not always prevent them from gaining acceptance within the society they were established for. The International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, which judged...
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