Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This Note examines international criminal tribunals and analyzes the factors that can govern the level of their effectiveness. The historical background in this area is essential, for one of the main points of the Note is that international criminal tribunals cannot be detached from the political circumstances that create them and enforce their verdicts if those verdicts are to be enforceable at all.

The Note begins with an analysis of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and compares it to its contemporary counterpart, the International Military Tribunal at Tokyo. The Note then makes a similar analysis of the recent International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

From the histories of these international criminal tribunals, the Note develops a predictive framework for the effectiveness of the newly-legislated permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). The predictive framework is built on several factors including: the degree of defeat among the losing parties, the level of cooperation among the victorious allies, popular approval of judicial procedures unacceptable under most other circumstances, and the weight of the evidence.

The last part of the Note applies this predictive framework to the new Rome Statute for the ICC. Though the ICC is a cornerstone of the dream of a truly effective and politically detached international criminal justice system, the experience of international criminal tribunals during the twentieth century demonstrates that such courts are dependent on the unified political will and military power of the alliance that supports their creation and enforces their verdicts.