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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A Court “Off the Shelf” for a Divided Country

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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is the most recently established international criminal tribunal. Controversially created by the UN Security Council in 2007 amid rising political tensions in the country, it is designed to investigate a number of politically motivated killings, including the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. It shares many characteristics of other hybrid (or “internationalized”) criminal tribunals, especially the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which facilitated its speedy establishment. But it breaks new ground as an international effort to specifically end impunity for terrorist acts. This article argues that in many respects, the legal framework of the Special Tribunal distills the “best practices” of prior tribunals. At the same time, the debate over its creation and its chances to assist the peace process in Lebanon continues.

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Fellow, City University of Hong Kong (academic year 2007/2008) PhD candidate, University of Cologne, Germany; 2: Legal trainee (Rechtsreferendarin) District Court of Cologne, Germany

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