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Building Sustainable Capacities – From an International Tribunal to a Domestic War Crimes Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The Court and Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina offer a model for building affordable, and effective domestic judicial and prosecutorial institutions in countries recovering from armed conflict. The establishment of hybrid war crimes tribunals should be guided by the principle of creating sustainable (as opposed to ad hoc) institutions, with a capacity building focus and insistence on strong partnerships between the international community and local stakeholders. Further, while the set-ups of hybrid tribunals must be tailored to reflect domestic constitutional and legal frameworks and local conditions of the countries in which they are established, these projects should also build on the tangible substantive standards and practical experiences of the existing international and internationalised criminal courts. The extensive cooperation between the state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the challenges they have experienced, give both a practical dimension to how the principle of complementarity can operate, and offer valuable lessons for future modes of cooperation between national and international courts. In the context of the closure of the ICTY, it is important to apply these lessons to the development of the Tribunal's legacy vision, in order to ensure that it meets the needs of national judicial institutions which will continue to process war crimes cases for decades after the Tribunal shuts down.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Court Management Officer, United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT)


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