Theodor Meron

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Theodor Meron
Theodor Meron.jpg
Born (1930-04-28) April 28, 1930 (age 85)
Kalisz, Poland
Nationality United States
Fields International law
Institutions New York University School of Law
Alma mater Hebrew University
Harvard Law School
Cambridge University

Theodor Meron (born 28 April 1930) is the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICTY.[1] He was elected President of the ICTY by his fellow judges on October 19, 2011,[2] and again on October 1, 2013.[3] He previously served as President of the ICTY from 2003 to 2005.[4] On December 20, 2011, Meron was elected as a Judge of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism).[5] On February 29, 2012, he was appointed President of the Mechanism for a four-year term, starting March 1, 2012.[6]

Early life[edit]

Born in Kalisz, Poland, Meron received his legal education at the Hebrew University (M.J.), Harvard Law School (LL.M., J.S.D.) and Cambridge University (Diploma in Public International Law). Since 1977, he has been a Professor of International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies and, since 1994, the holder of the Charles L. Denison Chair at New York University School of Law. In 2000-2001, he served as Counselor on International Law in the U.S. Department of State.

Legal career[edit]

Meron is a member of the Institute of International Law and the Council on Foreign Relations among other organizations[7] and is a former Honorary President of the American Society of International Law.[8] He was awarded the 2005 Rule of Law Award by the International Bar Association and the 2006 Manley O. Hudson Medal of the American Society of International Law. He was made Officer of the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic in 2007.[9] He received the Charles Homer Haskins Prize of the American Council of Learned Societies for 2008.[10] In 2009, Meron was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[11] He was awarded a doctorate of law honoris causa by the University of Warsaw in 2011.[12] He was made "Grand Officier" of the National Order of Merit by the President of the French Republic in 2014.[13]

Command responsibility in ICTY rulings[edit]

In June 2013, Judge Frederik Harhoff of Denmark, a judge at the ICTY, circulated a letter saying that Meron had pressured other judges into acquitting Serb and Croat commanders. The letter, which repeated complaints by other legal scholars, said that Meron had raised the degree of responsibility that senior military leaders should bear for war crimes committed by their subordinates, to the point where it a conviction has become nearly impossible. They blamed Meron, whom they identified as an American, for the acquittals of top Serb and Croat commanders.[14]

In August 2013, a chamber appointed by the ICTY Vice-President found by majority that Judge Harhoff had demonstrated an unacceptable appearance of bias in favour of conviction. Judge Harhoff was therefore disqualified from the case of Vojislav Šešelj. The decision followed a defence motion seeking the disqualification of Judge Harhoff on the basis of Judge Harhoff's letter.[15]

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Appeals Chamber President[edit]

The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) of Rwanda has formally called for the resignation of embattled president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Appeals Chamber Theodor Meron, who was recently accused of influencing court decisions by exerting undue influence on judges to let high-profile war crimes suspects go free. Executive Secretary of the CNLG, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, has stated permitting these decisions could have "disastrous consequences for the current and future cases of international war crimes, for truth and justice in the world, for peace and tolerance, and for human rights and freedoms." [16]

Meron and other judges reversed convictions and reduced considerably the sentences of Col. Theoneste Bagosora,the mastermind of the 1994 Hutu Genocide against the Tutsi, resulting in 800,000 to 1 million deaths, from life to 35 years - and second in command Lt. Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva from life to time served of 15 years. He was released June 2013

Meron is also accused of leading acquittals of Hutus Protais Zigiranyirazo in November 2009 and, recently, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza, all senior officials of the genocidal regime.

List of people indicted in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, convictions and current status in the court.

Legal opinion on settlements in the occupied territories[edit]

In the late 1960s, Meron was legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and wrote a secret 1967 memo[17] [18] [19] for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who was considering creating an Israeli settlement at Kfar Etzion. This was just after Israel's victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967. Meron's memo concluded that creating new settlements in the Occupied Territories would be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Eshkol went ahead to create the settlement anyway, and therefore set the conditions which began the Movement for Greater Israel and Israel's settlement enterprise.


Meron's books include: Investment Insurance in International Law (Oceana-Sijthoff, 1976); The United Nations Secretariat (Lexington Books, 1977); Human Rights in International Law (Oxford University Press, 1984); Human Rights Law-Making in the United Nations (Oxford University Press, 1986) (awarded the certificate of merit of the American Society of International Law); Human Rights in Internal Strife: Their International Protection (Sir Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures, Grotius Publications, 1987); Human Rights and Humanitarian Norms as Customary Law (Oxford University Press, 1989); Henry’s Wars and Shakespeare’s Laws (Oxford University Press, 1993); Bloody Constraint: War and Chivalry in Shakespeare (Oxford University Press, 1998); War Crimes Law Comes of Age: Essays (Oxford University Press, 1998); International Law In the Age of Human Rights (Martinus Nijhoff, 2004); The Humanization of International Law (Hague Academy of International Law and Nijhoff, 2006);[20] and The Making of International Justice: A View from the Bench, appeared in 2011 (Oxford University Press).[21] He is also among the editors of Humanizing the Laws of War: Selected Writings of Richard Baxter (Oxford University Press 2013).[22]


Reflections on the Prosecution of War Crimes by International Tribunals: A Historical Perspective in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law


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  14. ^ Judge at War Crimes Tribunal Faults Acquittals of Serb and Croat Commanders, By MARLISE SIMONS, New York Times, June 14, 2013
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  16. ^ Rwanda Wants ICTR Judge Meron to Resign, By Edwin Musoni, AllAfrica June 19,2013
  17. ^ Gorenberg, Gershom (2006-03-10). "Israel's Tragedy Foretold". New York Times. 
  18. ^ Transcript: God's Jewish Warriors "God’s Warriors, CNN Presents, produced by Christiane Amanpour, first aired August 21, 2007. Interview with Meron.
  19. ^ Settlement in the Administered Territories School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Links to 1967 Meron opinion in English and Hebrew. It is also here in Hebrew
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External links[edit]