A key study focussed on the future of the archives of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) commenced today in The Hague.
Chaired by former ICTY and ICTR Prosecutor, Justice Richard Goldstone, the expert committee undertaking the study will provide the Tribunals with an independent analysis of how best to ensure future accessibility of the archives and will review different locations that may be appropriate for housing the materials. They will, among other things, recommend whether to pursue the establishment of a single joint archive, two separate archives or multiple archives.
Both Tribunals are due to complete their mission in the coming years and are working to put in place a clear archival system that will best serve the interests of many stakeholders, especially the communities of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, as well as the international community. Numerous important elements regarding the Tribunals' varied and significant archives will be assessed in the study, and the manner in which their security, accessibility and preservation can be protected.
The archives are composed of an extremely large amount of records. For example, the Offices of the Prosecutor possess several million pages of evidence, and the Registries Court Management Support Sections hold several tens of thousands of hours of videotaped courtroom proceedings.
The Tribunals’ archives are a unique and invaluable resource for the peoples of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the United Nations and the international community. The many benefits of and uses for the archives include their role to facilitate ongoing and future prosecutions, serve as a historic record, as well as contribute to peace and reconciliation in the regions.
“The work of the independent committee is crucial for the preservation of the legacy of the two tribunals and for the victims, as well as for the future for international criminal justice,” said Justice Goldstone.
The committee team , formally entitled the Advisory Committee on the Archives of the UN Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ACA), is due to submit its first interim report to the Tribunal’s Registrars during the first quarter of 2008. Before then the committee will be visiting all regions involved to consult governments and civil society, as well as also meeting with relevant international non-governmental organisations.
The study is being undertaken by a team of internationally recognised experts in the archives and legal professions. The team dealing specifically with the ICTY archive is composed of Professor Dr. Eric Ketelaar, a former national archivist of the Netherlands, and Cecile Aptel, a former staff member of both the ICTY and ICTR. The ICTR-related team is made up of Professor Dr. Saliou Mbaye, former national archivist of Senegal and Judge M. Chande Othman, Judge at the Tanzanian High Court, former Prosecutor at the East Timor UN administration, and former Chief of Prosecutions at the ICTR.
The study is commissioned on behalf of the Tribunals by the two Registrars, Adama Dieng of the ICTR and Hans Holthuis of the ICTY.