Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


About fifty years have gone by since international humanitarian law was first applied to the proseculion and punishment of war criminals. Just a few years ago, the international humanitarian law most law students learned about was couched within public international law, often studied without any serious intention of ever applying it. Recent prosecutions of war criminals in former Yugoslavia, the presence of genocide suspects in Rwanda and the impending establishment of the Permanent International Criminal Tribunal by the United Nations have revived interest in international humanitarian law, with particular interest in genocide and crimes against humanity.

This article compares the prosecutorial process of national courts and ad hoc international tribunals and attempts to reach tentative conclusions as to which is better positioned to render fair and impartial justice to the accused and the victims. The fairness of the systems will be gauged by juxtaposing the processes against the standards set by customary international law and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.