In recent times, the Security Council has been focusing more often on the issue of protecting civilians in armed conflict. The serious violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda caused the Security Council to establish two ad hoc international tribunals with the aim of prosecuting persons responsible for such violations, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The tribunals were subsidiary organs of the Security Council within the terms of article 29 of the UN Charter. As such they were dependent on the UN in administrative and financial matters, although as judicial institutions they were independent of any State or group of States, including the Security Council. The tribunals were temporary international courts.
The principal judicial organ of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT)
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) was created by the Security Council on 22 December 2010 in accordance to Security Council Resolution 1966: Establishment, Statute, and Transitional Arrangements (S/RES/1966 (2010). It is mandated to perform a number of essential functions previously carried out by the ICTR and the ICTY.
The Mechanism started operating on 1 July 2012 in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, and on 1 July 2013 in The Hague, the Netherlands. It operated in parallel with the ICTR and the ICTY, and continues to operate after the Tribunals’ closure. The ICTR closed in 2015 with the ICTY following in 2017.
More on Un and International tribunals
Report on the Security Council action protecting human rights and civilians in armed conflict is published in the annual report to the General Assembly in the series Official Records of the General Assembly. Supplement no. 2, Report of the Security Council.
The Security Council's annual report (supplement) to the General Assembly have the following documentary symbol:
A/ General Assembly
-/ session number
2/ current number
Ex. A/68/2 General Assembly, 68th session, no 2 = Report of the Security Council (for the year 2012-2013)
The supplements can be retrieved through the fulltext database ODS.
- Documents dealing with the work of the Tribunals, information about mandates, basic legal documents, cases and judgements, reports and publications:
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
- All UN documents from 1993-.
- All resolutions of the Principal Organs from 1946-.
- All Security Council plenary documents from 1946- in English, French and Spanish.
- All supplements to the General Assembly Official Records (GAOR) from 1946-.
- All General Assembly plenary meeting records from 1946- in English, French and Spanish.
- Older documents are being scanned: status of digitization.