Saddam Hussein on Trial: What Went Awry?


The Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) joins the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo as the first of a new breed of accountability mechanisms which the author characterizes as internationalized-domestic tribunals. Unfortunately, the IHT faced world-wide opposition from its conception, and once the Dujail trial began, the proceedings were marred by the assassination of defence counsel, the resignation of judges, the boycott of defence lawyers, the disruptive conduct of the defendants and finally by a botched execution that was universally condemned. But judged in light of the unique challenges that the IHT faced, the fact that there were no feasible alternatives available for trying Saddam Hussein, and that war crimes trials are historically divisive and messy, the IHT cannot simply be written off as an utter failure. Rather, an objective assessment of the IHT would have to acknowledge that there were in fact some positive aspects as well, which are described in this essay written by one of the experts who trained the judges that presided over the Saddam Hussein Trial.


Saddam Hussein Trial

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Journal of International Criminal Justice

Publication Information

5 Journal of International Criminal Justice 258 (2007)

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COinS Michael P. Scharf Faculty Bio