The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A Defense Perspective

This Article analyzes the absence of organs tasked with guaranteeing the rights of the defense in international criminal law. It explains the historical origins of the problem, tracing it back to the genesis of modern prosecutions at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. It then explains how the organizational charts of the UN courts for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone omitted the defense and essentially treated it as a second class citizen before the eyes of the law. This sets the stage for the author to show why the creation of the first full-fledged defense organ in international criminal law by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon is a welcome advance in the maturing of international penal tribunals from primitive to more civilized institutions. The Article argues that if the legal provision contained in the Lebanon Tribunal statute is matched with the independence and resources needed to help realize defendant rights, it will likely become one of the statute’s biggest legacies to international law.

Image Source: – Vincent van Zeijst (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

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