Time to Say Goodbye

Following over a decade long civil war, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) closes it doors finally completing it’s mission.  The court came into creation during the Sierra Leone Civil War, which lasted 11 years, from 1991-2002.  This grueling war began with an intervention from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group set out to change the government of Sierra Leone.

The RUF attempted to overthrow the current government of Sierra Leone by taking over large parts of the Sierra Leone territory, which was plentiful with diamonds. Although the Sierra Leone Army undertook efforts to try and fight off the rebel army, they were unfortunately ineffective.  As a new government made its way to take over the country, a wave of murder, looting and rape ran through the country.

After almost eight years of civil war, world leaders began to intervene to try and put an end to this chaos.  Negotiations were established with the RUF, in which the Lome Peace Accord was signed and agreed upon. This agreement pardoned the RUF and set up a commission to document any violations of international humanitarian law.  Unfortunately, this agreement did not last long and the RUF hostilities began again.

The war finally came to an end in 2002, with the help of the United Kingdom and the United Nations, the RUF was finally defeated after over 50,000 lives had been lost. By the request of the Sierra Leone President, the Special Court of Sierra Leone was created in order to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed within the country since 1996.

The court now receives praise by the UN for its many accomplishments completing countless trials of former leaders of the country, the most well known trial being that of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.  The Court has not only accomplished its original objectives but has also become a role model for other international courts.  The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone will now succeed the SCSL, answering to early release applications of convicts and any necessary legal duties, will now succeed the court.  By setting an example for other international tribunals, there is a hope that this will only be the beginning to more achievements to bringing justice worldwide.

Should there be more tribunals created to handle specific situations within the international world? Will other international tribunals created to accomplish similar means, be able to close their doors knowing they completed their goals?




The Special Court for Sierra Leone





  1. This is actually a refreshing story to read. Its great to know that tribunals can work effectively and achieve the goal that they were created to accomplish with reports of corruption and other improprieties clouding their legacy. This tribunal can actually serve as a model for future tribunals in other nations. Personally, I believe a tribunal in the same model of the Sierra Leone tribunal should be created to cope with the Haitian and Dominican Republic conflict. There has long been history of animosities between the nations mostly animosity from the Dominican Republic towards Haitians. Recently, as a previous post noted the Dominican government stripped Haitians that did not have Dominican parents of citizenship. This is regardless of the fact that they may have been born in the Dominican Republic. This left countless of Haitians stateless. Yet, no international entity has taken notice to this atrocity. A tribunal would be a perfect venue to adjudicate this Dominican law. Furthermore, the tribunal may also be able to adjudicate the claims of Haitians who are accused of misusing funds amassed from the 2010 earthquake.

  2. I agree with Bianca that this article is very refreshing. The tragedy in Sierra Leone was widespread and very well known. The end of the “blood diamond” epidemic is a blessing. For over a decade the Sierra Leone Army tried their best to fight off the rebel army, but for many years their efforts were ineffective. Similar to the tragic events in Rwanda an outpouring of murder and rape swept Sierra Leone, but help from the United Nations did not come quickly. It took almost eight years of civil war for world leaders to intervene. I believe that help should have come sooner, but thankfully the tribunal that was established was very effective. Tribunals such as this one should be implemented in every region internationally where similar acts have occurred to bring these criminals to justice. I hope the tribunal for Ex-Yugoslavia follows in the footsteps of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and completes its mission in the days to come.

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