The Elgar Companion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
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The Elgar Companion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Edited by Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Alette Smeulers

The Elgar Companion to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is a one-stop reference resource on this complex tribunal, established in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which closed its doors on 31 December 2015. This Companion provides an insightful account of the workings and legacy of the ICTR in the field of international criminal justice.
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Chapter 5: War crimes

Felix Mukwiza Ndahinda


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is mostly known for its rich jurisprudence regarding the crime of genocide, most prominently for being the first international tribunal ‘called upon to interpret the definition of genocide as contained in the Genocide Convention’, through the Akayesu judgement rendered on 2 September 1998. The ICTR was indeed the first international tribunal to ‘indict, prosecute, and convict an official for genocide, and to hold that rape itself could constitute genocide’. However, the work of the ICTR does not simply revolve around the prosecution of the crime of genocide. Most persons prosecuted by the Tribunal were also prosecuted for crimes against humanity as discussed by Oosterveld in Chapter 4 in this volume. Moreover, crimes falling under the ICTR mandate were committed within a context of resumption of armed hostilities between, on the one hand, the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and militias, including the Interahamwe, and, on the other hand, the rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A). The protracted armed conflict began on 1 October 1990 with RPF attack and formally ended when RPF defeated the FAR in July 1994. The existence of a situation of armed conflict therefore motivated the inclusion of war crimes charges in a number of cases. Hence, in addition to ICTR’s important contribution in the interpretation of the crime of genocide, the Tribunal also made an important contribution in the interpretation and application of international norms regarding these two other categories of international crimes.

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