The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (the Mechanism) is a United Nations organization tasked inter alia with completing outstanding cases of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and with carrying out other residual functions of these ad hoc Tribunals, including tracking the remaining fugitives, protecting witnesses, managing and preserving the archives, and assisting national jurisdictions.

The Mechanism commenced operating in 2012 and has two branches: one in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, and one in The Hague, The Netherlands. At The Hague branch, the Mechanism is primarily concerned with tasks inherited from the ICTY, while the Arusha branch continues the tasks inherited from the ICTR. The ICTY and the ICTR were the first two United Nations international criminal tribunals established to prosecute persons alleged to be responsible for the most serious crimes that took place during the 1990s conflicts in the Balkans and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Established in 1993 and 1994, respectively, the ICTY and the ICTR irreversibly changed the landscape of international criminal and humanitarian law and ushered in a new era where it is no longer a question whether individuals who commit grave crimes should be held criminally responsible.

Having completed their mandates in 2015 (ICTR) and 2017 (ICTY), the remaining tasks of these Tribunals were taken over by the Mechanism, which has operated as a standalone institution since January 2018.

In carrying out its various functions, the Mechanism maintains the legacies of these two pioneering Tribunals and strives to reflect best practices in the field of international criminal justice. Recently ongoing at the Mechanism’s Hague branch were appeal proceedings in the case of Prosecutor v. Ratko Mladić, as well as a retrial in the case of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, among other judicial matters. At the Arusha branch, contempt proceedings took place ths year in the multi-accused case of Prosecutor v. Maximilien Turinabo et al. Further, following the arrest in May 2020 of ICTR fugitive Félicien Kabuga, the Mechanism is preparing for the trial.