For the first time, about 50 officials having worked at or collaborated with the Arusha-based ICTR-- judges, lawyers, members of the registry, registrars, prosecutors, witnesses, experts, victims, investigators, interpreters, academics and journalists, were able to draw up their own assessment, after 15 years of activities, of this exceptional Tribunal set up by the United Nations. to prosecute authors of the crimes committed in Rwanda between April and July, 1994.
The exercise was not easy, according to the observers.
"It is necessary to underline the great courage of the ICTR to subject itself to criticism and such a self-evaluation exercise, brought forth by Andre Guichaoua (University de Paris1) and Vincent Chetail (The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva), co-organizers of the conference.," they underscored.
Nobody held back on the ICTR, comparing the expectations and the achieved results.
Certain failures, like slowness of the trials, duration of preventive detention and work conditions in Arusha, were subjects of debate.
Other participants noted that the non prosecution of the crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1994 was likely to harm the credibility of the Tribunal, which would thus leave unfinished part of its mandate.
For his part, the ICTR spokesperson, Roland Amoussouga, considered that the "parties" of the Tribunal were able to explain their priorities and strategies in debates which proved to be "sharp, free, ripe and enriching and which exceeded all expectations".
"It is the first time that we attended such a meeting. An innovative forum which we hope will spread", he underlined.
The conference was organized by the Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Geneva (ADH), the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (IHEID) and the Institute of Economic and Social Development Studies (IEDES) of the University de Paris 1.
It was supported by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland (FDFA) and the ICTR.
The resolutions of the conference will be published in August 2009.
© Hirondelle News Agency