In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works and Bibliographies
  • Memoirs
  • Procedure
  • Jurisprudence
  • Gender
  • Trials
  • State Cooperation
  • Completion Strategy
  • Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation
  • Legacy

International Law International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
Rachel Kerr
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 June 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0169


The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in 1993 to prosecute those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the territory of what was Yugoslavia since the outbreak of war in 1991. The ICTY was established by the United Nations Security Council as part of a package of measures aimed at ending hostilities in the former Yugoslavia, and in particular, responding to allegations of mass atrocities, including unlawful killing, rape, sexual assault, persecution, and forced displacement carried out in furtherance of strategies of ethnic cleansing. It was groundbreaking and has set many precedents. The literature on the ICTY is vast and diverse—a simple IBSS search on the title throws up over 2,300 results; the majority of these are journal articles, but there have also been many books written on the topic. This entry provides an overview of the most significant of these sources, curated by subject, and covering the law, politics, and practice of the ICTY.

General Overviews

There are several book-length accounts of the ICTY. Early studies include Morris and Scharf 1995, which is a guide to the establishment and organization of the Tribunal, and Lescure 1996 (cited under Reference Works and Bibliographies), which explains its inner workings. Clark and Sann 1996 is a collection of essays reflecting on the establishment of the ICTY and its significance in legal and political terms, including an excellent essay by David Forsythe on the political circumstances of its establishment and the likely consequences for its operation. Kerr 2004, Hagan 2003, and Hazan 2004 also focus on the international politics of the ICTY from its establishment and operation up to the beginning of the Milosevic trial, while Schabas 2006 is a guide to the law and practice of the ICTY together with the other UN Tribunals for Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Since around 2004, books on the ICTY have focused less on its prospects and more on its record and legacy. In 2004, the Journal of International Criminal Justice published a Symposium on The ICTY 10 Years On: The View from Inside, featuring essays by key players.

  • Clark, Roger Stenson, and Madeleine Sann. The Prosecution of International Crimes: A Critical Study of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1996.

    This collection of essays, first published as a special issue of Criminal Law Forum (Vol. 5, Issue 2–3) in 1994, was one of the first surveys of the many legal and political issues raised by the establishment of the ICTY. It is a useful inroad to understanding how the Tribunal was perceived and what expectations surrounded it.

  • Hagan, John. Justice in the Balkans: Prosecuting War Crimes in the Hague Tribunal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

    Detailed account of the ICTY’s work in its first ten years of operation. Hagan’s account is focused on the individuals who shaped the Tribunal’s work, in particular on the role of Louise Arbour and her success in transforming the Tribunal’s fortunes by ensuring compliance with arrest warrants.

  • Hazan, Pierre. Justice in a Time of War: The True Story behind the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004.

    Describes the politics surrounding the establishment of the Tribunal and its operation, including efforts to constrain it early on, and pressure exerted to ensure Milosevic was indicted during the NATO bombing campaign over Kosovo in 1999.

  • Kerr, Rachel. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia: An Exercise in Law, Politics and Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    Systematic and detailed examination of the ICTY. Charts the historical process of the establishment and operation of the Tribunal up to and including the Milosevic trial. The book questions the extent to which the ICTY was able to resist politicization of the judicial mandate, given its status as a political tool (for international peace and security) and the international political context in which it operated.

  • Morris, Virginia, and Michael P. Scharf. An Insider’s Guide to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia: A Documentary History and Analysis. Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Transnational Publishers, 1995.

    One of the first books to be published on the ICTY. It provides a detailed guide to the institution and a detailed exposition of the steps leading to its establishment. Particularly useful are the documents, including the proposals submitted by states and organizations, and the views expressed by members of the Security Council in adopting the Statute.

  • Schabas, William. The UN International Criminal Tribunals: The Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    Comprehensive guide to the law of the ICTY and its sister Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Explains the legal basis for their establishment and compares and contrasts jurisdiction, applicable law, and jurisprudence.

  • “Symposium on the ICTY 10 Years On: The View from Inside.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 2.2 (2004).

    Collection of essays reflecting on the first ten years of the ICTY, including by key players such as the first president and prosecutor, Antonio Cassese and Richard Goldstone, as well as successors Gabrielle Kirk Macdonald, Claude Jorda, Louise Arbour, and Carla Del Ponte, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer, and less visible but highly significant individuals working in and around the Tribunal.

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