3 Publicist 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/public3 and id is 1 raw text is: The Right to a Fair Trial in International
Law, with Specific Reference to the Work of
the ICTY
Judge Patrick Robinson*
The right to a fair trial is an ancient one and is synonymous with the trial
process itself. It would be nonsense to speak of the permissibility of an unfair
trial. After centuries of implementation in practice, the right to a fair trial,
which was finally codified in the international human rights instruments
following World War II, is now universally recognized.
In this article, I will endeavour to trace the right to a fair trial from its early
roots up to the present day. Understanding its long history and realizing how
little it has changed over the centuries clearly demonstrate its fundamental
character and its status as a rule of customary international law. I will also
consider whether it qualifies as a peremptory norm of general international law
orjus cogens. Furthermore, a brief survey will be undertaken to show how the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has
integrated this right into its legal system.
The roots of the basic principles of the right to a fair trial can be traced all
the way back to the Lex Duodecim Tabularum-the Law of the Twelve
Tables-which was the first written code of laws in the Roman Republic around
455 B.C.2 Contained within these laws was the right to have all parties present
at a hearing,3 the principle of equality amongst citizens,4 and the prohibition
* President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia. This essay is based on a speech, delivered at the Colloquium on International Justice in
Rome on 16 October 2009.
2. The first ten tablets were published around 455 B.C., with the last two around 449 B.C.
3. Table 2, Law 1.

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