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Sierra Leone’s shoestring Special Court

31-03-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 845, by Avril McDonald


Avril McDonald
is a researcher at the TMC Asser Institute for International Law in The Hague and a Ph.D. candidate in international law at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is managing editor of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law. 

By resolution 1315 of 14 August 2000, the UN Security Council called on the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with the government of Sierra Leone for the creation of a special court to investigate the atrocities committed within that country, which has been ravaged by several years of civil war. Under the agreement concluded in February 2001, the Special Court will have jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during that period. The author examines in detail the Statute of the Special Court, which is inspired by the statutes drawn up for the International Criminal Court and the two ad hoc Tribunals. The author comes to the bitter conclusion that the material resources made available for the Special Court will never be sufficient to establish an effective and appropriate judicial system, the sine qua non for a return to peace in Sierra Leone.  

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