United Nations Security Council Resolution 955

United Nations Security Council resolution 955, adopted on 8 November 1994, after recalling all resolutions on Rwanda, the Council noted that serious violations of international humanitarian law had taken place in the country and, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).[1]

UN Security Council
Resolution 955
ICTR in Kigali.jpg
ICTR building in the Rwandan capital Kigali
Date8 November 1994
Meeting no.3,453
Voting summary
  • 13 voted for
  • 1 voted against
  • 1 abstained
Security Council composition
Permanent members
Non-permanent members

The Security Council appreciated the work of the Commission of Experts established in Resolution 935 (1994), and expressed its concern at reports of genocide and other widespread violations of international humanitarian law had taken place in Rwanda. It stated that the situation constituted a threat to international peace and security and was determined to put an end to such crimes and bring those responsible to justice in order to restore peace. The Council believed that the establishment of an international tribunal would ensure that such violations are halted and addressed. In this regard, the need for international co-operation to strengthen the judicial system in Rwanda was stressed.

The ICTR and its Statute were established after noting the request by the Government of Rwanda to create an international tribunal for the prosecution of serious violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda between 1 January and 31 December 1994. All countries were urged to co-operate with the ICTR and its organs and to take measures under domestic law to implement the present resolution. Funds, equipment and services to the tribunal were also requested in order to support the process. The Rwandan government would be notified before decisions were taken concerning the enforcement or commutation of sentences under Articles 26 and 27 of the Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda.[2]

The Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was requested to ensure the immediate implementation of the current resolution and to make arrangements for the functioning of the tribunal, including recommendations regarding the location of the ICTR. This would be determined with regard to considerations of justice and fairness as well as administrative efficiency, access to witnesses and economy. It also noted that the ICTR may meet away from its seat to discuss its functions. The Council concluded by stating that the number of judges and trial chambers may be increased when necessary.

Resolution 955 was adopted by 13 votes in favour and 1 vote against from Rwanda, while China abstained from the vote.[3] China abstained from the vote, viewing the genocide as an internal matter for Rwanda.[4]

Rwandan rejectionEdit

Though Rwanda had formally requested the Security Council to set up an international tribunal,[5] the Rwandan government opposed Resolution 955. The Rwandan delegation gave several reasons for the rejection:[6][7]

  1. The period covered by the tribunal, from 1 January to 31 December 1994, was inadequate and should be changed to the period of the Rwandan Civil War, from 1 October 1990 to 17 July 1994. Rwanda argued that this was necessary to include the alleged planning phase of the genocide.
  2. That there were too few Trial Chamber judges, and that the tribuneral should get its own Appeals Chamber and Prosecutor, as opposed to sharing those entities with the ICTY.
  3. The tribuneral ought to focus on the crime of genocide, instead of "dispers[ing] its energy by prosecuting crimes that come under the jurisdiction of internal tribunals."
  4. That "certain countries, which need not be named here" and which "took a very active part in the civil war" should not be allowed to "propose candidates for judges and participate in their election."
  5. That those prosecuted by the tribunal could be imprisoned in third countries, which would "be given the authority to reach decisions about the detainees", something that ought to be for the "International Tribunal or at least for the Rwandese people to decide."
  6. That the ICTR rules out death penalty, which is provided for in the Rwandese penal code, thus creating a "disparity in sentences".
  7. That the seat of the tribuneral should be in Rwanda. The Rwandan delegation "was surprised to see that the authors of the draft still hesitate to indicate where the future seat of the Tribunal will be."

Despite this rejection, the Rwandan delegation claimed that "Rwanda wants and believes in an international tribunal for Rwanda".[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Heyns, Christof (1999). Human rights law in Africa. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 8. ISBN 978-90-411-1849-3.
  2. ^ Klip, André; Sluiter, Göran (2003). Annotated leading cases of International Criminal Tribunals: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Intersentia nv. p. 239. ISBN 978-90-5095-319-1.
  3. ^ Boot, Machteld (2002). Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes: nullum crimen sine lege and the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Intersentia nv. p. 227. ISBN 978-90-5095-216-3.
  4. ^ Schabas, William (2006). The UN international criminal tribunals: the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Cambridge University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-521-84657-8.
  5. ^ Bakuramutsa, Manzi (29 September 1994). "LETTER DATED 28 SEPTEMBER 1994 FROM THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF RWANDA TO THE UNITED NATIONS ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL". United Nations. S/1994/1115. We request the international community to reinforce government efforts by [...] Setting up as soon as possible an international tribunal to try the criminals;
  6. ^ a b "3453rd Meeting, 8 November 1994". United Nations Security Council. 8 November 1994. pp. 13–16. S/PV.3453.
  7. ^ T.M.C. Asser Instituut (1998). Yearbook of international humanitarian law, Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 978-90-6704-107-2.

External linksEdit