The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. Since its establishment in 1993 it has irreversibly changed the landscape of international humanitarian law and provided victims an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced.
In its precedent-setting decisions on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Tribunal has shown that an individual’s senior position can no longer protect them from prosecution.
It has now shown that those suspected of bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed can be called to account, as well as that guilt should be individualised, protecting entire communities from being labelled as “collectively responsible”.
Crimes of Sexual Violence
The Tribunal has played a historic role in the prosecution of wartime sexual violence in the former Yugoslavia and has paved the way for a more robust adjudication of such crimes worldwide.
From the first days of the Tribunal’s mandate, investigations were conducted into reports of systematic detention and rape of women, men and children. Almost half of those convicted by the ICTY have been found guilty of elements of crimes involving sexual violence. Such convictions are one of the Tribunal's pioneering achievements. They have ensured that treaties and conventions which have existed on paper throughout the 20th century have finally been put in practice, and violations punished.