Introduction: What Was the Tribunal Expected to Do?
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was created in the wave of post-Cold War transitional justice discourses. The concept of transitional justice has evolved in the last thirty years to describe and advocate a range of legal and political mechanisms applied in societies transforming from authoritarianism to democracy, as well as from violent conflict to post-conflict peace-building. The underlying presumption in otherwise heterogeneous transitional justice literature maintains that establishing, disclosing, and acknowledging past crimes delegitimizes the past regime and reaffirms the rule of law, which is deemed crucial for rebuilding social cohesion and strengthening democratic values.
The conviction that legal (and extralegal) measures could contribute to the undoing of war's authoritarian legacy and ease the transition to democracy has been tested in the Yugoslav case particularly through the establishment of the ICTY. The Tribunal's extralegal functions have been apparent, indeed essential, from the day of its founding. Although founded by the Security Council Resolution “for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia,” it promised to achieve much more. In the First Annual Report of the ICTY, its president, Antonio Cassese, summarized the institution's aims: “to do justice, to deter further crimes and to contribute to the restoration and maintenance of the peace.” Ultimately, the ambition of the ICTY in the eyes of many was to influence the transformation of the region of the former Yugoslavia away from the anarchy of this post-communist warzone. Democratization as such was never declared a part of the Tribunal's mandate, but was strongly implied in the nexus of its adopted aims and stated achievements, listed on the official webpage as follows: “(1) Holding leaders accountable, (2) Bringing justice to victims, (3) Giving victims a voice, (4) Establishing the facts, (5) Developing international law and (6) Strengthening the rule of law.” This chapter aims to explore what the Tribunal actually achieved in these respects, and how its work was perceived and echoed in the region.