Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Judge Cassese Resigns

Tribunal Update 142: Last Week in The Hague (September 6-12, 1999)

The President of the ICTY, Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, has informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations so he may appoint a Judge to serve the remainder of Judge Cassese's term of office until November 17, 2001. In her letter to the Secretary-General, President McDonald points out that Judge Cassese was "the Tribunal's first President and has rendered distinguished service and critical leadership, both as President and as Judge". She also notes that "the United Nations has been most fortunate to have the benefit of Judge Cassese's extensive knowledge of international humanitarian law". She concludes: "He will be sorely missed".

Within the span of only several months, Judge Cassese is the third prominent figure to leave the court before his mandate has run out. Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour is leaving this week (a year before her four-year-long mandate has expired), and the Tribunal's current president, Judge McDonald, will leave the The Hague precisely halfway through her second four-year mandate, due to expire in November 2001.

Some have drawn alarming conclusions about a "crisis" at the Tribunal and its "staff depletion" as a result of early departures. Tribunal Update's impression, however, is that this testifies to the maturity of the institution and confirms that it is the hard work invested in its development that takes its toll.