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The United Nations has established special international criminal tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia to prosecute those responsible for atrocities during times of war and genocide. Successful convictions of these political and military leaders are meant to bring justice to victims and to deter others from committing such crimes in the future.
These special tribunals gave impetus to the formation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), finally established in 2003. Unlike the ICC, the special tribunals have a more limited jurisdictions and do not threaten the possible prosecution of leaders or nationals of powerful countries like the United States.
This section follows important cases in the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, as well as developments at the Special Courts in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia and East Timor. In addition, the page covers general discussions about the trials of former top officials in domestic courts in light of international law principles.