I was reading the UN Security Council's Resolution 827, formally establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and came across the following clause,

"Decides that all States shall cooperate fully with the International Tribunal and its organs in accordance with the present resolution and the Statute of the International Tribunal and that consequently all States shall take any measures necessary under their domestic law to implement the provisions of the present resolution and the Statute, including the obligation of States to comply with requests for assistance or orders issued by a Trial Chamber under Article 29 of the Statute;"

How can the International Tribunal make other States adhere to the resolutions and sentences passes by them? Especially, considering that these rulings or resolutions might be in direct conflict with already existing domestic laws.

  • 3
    Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to answer the question. If you would like to answer the question, please post a real answer which fulfills our quality standards.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 15:56
  • Is your question specific to the ICTY only? The title reads like other Tribunals may be relevant as well. Please clarify. Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 15:45
  • Any tribunals or international criminal courts Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 11:33

3 Answers 3


It's difficult to think of a formal decision by this tribunal that could directly conflict with national law. Unlike the EU Court of Justice or the International Court of Justice, the ICTY and other international criminal courts prosecute individuals. On the other hand, these tribunals rely heavily on states to collect evidence and execute arrest warrants. In particular, tracking down and arresting prominent suspects like Ratko Mladić and Slobodan Milošević has been a challenge for the ICTY. Once a suspect is in custody and the tribunal hands down a sentence, executing it is no problem (the ICTY doesn't hold trials in absentia of people who are not in its custody).

In any case, the tribunal itself doesn't have much power to force compliance from a reluctant state. What has happened is that other, larger, states can assist and pressure the reluctant state through all the usual diplomatic means. If states are not interested, the court is powerless and procedures are going nowhere. More often than not, it doesn't have enough evidence to hold a trial and there is therefore no sentence or decision with which to comply, besides requests for assistance. The International Criminal Court is struggling with this a lot.


All law grows out of the barrel of a gun. No UN tribunal can enforce any decisions. However, members of the UN Security Council can, and sometimes do. Should a UN Security Council member assemble a "coalition of the willing" -- or a coalition of the billing, as is more often the case -- and should other members of the Security Council not be willing to stand militarily in said member's way, then bombs will fall and troops will march.

In less prominent cases, an individual wanted by the tribunal might be kidnapped -- ahem, "arrested" -- whilst traveling incautiously hither and yon. Possibly by the authorities in some third country where a Security Council member has influence, or possibly by said member's covert agency and/or special forces operatives.


As the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was an organ of the United Nations, the power to enforce its decision ultimately resided with the Security Council, which has in theory all powers - including war.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .