International courts are formed by treaties between nations or under the authority of an international organization like the United Nations. Those subject to the court will typically include signatory states (and, in some cases, private citizens of those states). The authorizing statute or treaty for an international court will outline its jurisdiction, usually including the following:
For an in-depth overview of conducting research on international courts and tribunals, please visit the UNC Law Library's Public International Law Research Guide. This research guide provides guidance on how to conduct treaties research where the United States is a party to the treaty, and it also provides suggestions for conducting treaties research where the United States is not a party to the treaty.
The following is a list of the major international courts and tribunals that regularly deal with issues of international humanitarian law. For detailed information on each of these courts, please visit their respective pages on the Public International Law Research Guide.
International Court of Justice
The ICJ is the principal judicial body of the United Nations and has jurisdiction over issues relating to international human rights law. The official case reporter is Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions, and Orders (Recueil des arrêts, avis consultatifs et ordonnances) (I.C.J.), available in paper at the UNC Law Library at KZ214 .I58, as well as on HeinOnline.
International Criminal Court
This court is not connected with the United Nations, but was created by the Rome Statute in 1988 as a permanent, international criminal court with jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. ICC cases and other information are available on the court’s website.
In addition to the importance of permanent, international courts and regional human rights bodies, in the past ad hoc tribunals were set up to deal with particular conflicts. The following is a list of the major temporary tribunals.
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (ECCC) is a court created to prosecute those responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. The various cases are described under the ECCC website's Cases tab, while all case documents and other legal materials are found under are found under Legal Documents.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was created in 2009 to try those responsible for the attacks of February, 2005 which resulted in the deaths of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and 21 others. Case judgments and filings are found under the tab titled The Cases, while more general materials such as the founding documents and court rules are found under Documents.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The ICTR was created by the United Nations Security Council to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law in 11994 in Rwanda and neighboring states. In addition to the case decisions, the website offers a wide range of legal materials including the founding documents, pertinent UN Security Council resolutions and court rules.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Established in 1993, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) hears cases related to war crimes committed during the Balkans conflict in the 1990’s. Its Legal Library offers access to case decisions, court records and even governing procedure and evidence rules.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
Created jointly by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations, this court is charged with prosecuting those responsible for the violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Decisions, appeals and other case documents are availabole from the tab labeled The SCSL.
The International Military Tribunal for Germany
This tribunal conducted the famous Nuremberg Trials of civilian and military leaders of Germany after World War II. The Avalon Project’s page offers access to a wide array of materials relating to the tribunal itself as well as the individual cases.
Harvard Law School's Law Library also offers access to a variety of primary documents related to the Nuremberg Trials via their Nuremberg Trials Project.