Trial without undue delay: a promise unfulfilled in international criminal courts

Cynthia J. Cline


The right to a trial without undue delay is guaranteed using identical language in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). All three mirror the guarantee in the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights that all persons charged with crimes are entitled "to be tried without undue delay."

This paper will examine the reason for a right to a trial without undue delay and its origin in national and international law. It also will show how these national guarantees serve as the basis of the international law guarantee of trial without undue delay and how that guarantee has played out in the international courts.

Finally, this paper will examine reasons why the right of trial without undue delay arguably has been ignored and/or violated in the ICTY, the ICTR and the ICC due to long delays in completing the cases.


Trial without undue delay; speedy trial; International Convention on Civil and Political Rights; International Tribunals

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ICTY Manual on Developed Practices, 2009. THE AVALON PROJECT DOCUMENTS IN LAW, HISTORY AND DIPLOMACY. Virginia declaration of rights. Available at:


ISSN 2179-8338 (impresso) - ISSN 2236-1677 (on-line)

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