David Tolbert

Board of Directors
Senior Staff

David Tolbert was appointed president of the International Center for Transitional Justice in March of 2010. Previously he served as registrar (assistant secretary-general) of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and prior to that was assistant secretary-general and special expert to the United Nations secretary-general on United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials.

From 2004 to 2008 Mr. Tolbert served as deputy chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He had previously been the deputy registrar of the ICTY and at an earlier time served at the ICTY as chef de cabinet to President Gabrielle Kirk McDonald and Senior Legal Adviser, Registry, serving a total of 9 years at the ICTY.

From 2000 to 2003 Mr. Tolbert held the position of executive director of the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, which manages rule-of-law development programs throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He also held the position of chief, General Legal Division of the United Nations Relief Works Agency in Vienna, Austria, and Gaza. In addition Mr. Tolbert taught international law and human rights at the post-graduate level in the United Kingdom and practiced law for many years in the United States.

David Tolbert was Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and served as a member of the American Society of International Law Task Force on United States Policy Toward the International Criminal Court (ICC) during 2008 and 2009. He has a number of publications on international criminal justice, the ICTY, and the ICC, in the Harvard Human Rights Journal, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, and other journals and books. Mr. Tolbert frequently lectures and makes public appearances on international justice issues. He also represented the ICTY in the discussions leading up to the creation of the ICC and the Rome Conference and served as an expert to the ICC Preparatory Committee Inter-Sessional meetings. Mr. Tolbert is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

List of Published Works

Book Chapters

  • "Introduction" and "The Registry," in The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, eds. A. Alamuddin, N. Nabil Jurdi, D. Tolbert (Oxford University Press, 2014).

  • “The ICTY and the Transfer of Cases/Materials to National Judicial Authorities: Lessons in Complementarity,” in The International Criminal Court and Complementarity: From Theory to Practice, eds. C. Stahn and M. El Zeidy (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

  • “The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: Transitional Justice, the Transfer of Cases and Lessons for the ICC” (with A. Kontic), in The Emerging Practice of the International Criminal Court, eds. C. Stahn and G. Sluiter (Brill: 2009): 135–162.

  • Multiple articles, in Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Observers’ Notes, Article by Article, ed. O. Triffterer 2nd ed. (Beck/Hart: 2008), 981–1020.

  • “Children and International Criminal Law,” in Individual Criminal Accountability and Children’s Rights, eds. K. Arts and V. Popovski (T.M.C. Asser Press: 2006), 147–154.

  • “The Protection of, and Assistance to, Witnesses at the ICTY,” With F. Swinnen. The Dynamics of International Criminal Justice, eds. H. Abtahi and G. Boas. Brill (2006), 193–230.

  • “Enforcement of Sentences” (with A. Rydberg), Essays on ICTY Procedure and Evidence in Honour of Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (Brill: 2001), 533–543.

  • “Commentaries on Articles 43–50, 115–117,” in Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, ed. O. Triffterer. (Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft: 1999), 632–78, 1221–35.

  • “Toward an International Criminal Court” (with Roger Clark), in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Fifty Years and Beyond, eds. D. Yael et al. (Baywood Publishing Company: 1998), 99–114.

  • “Global Climate Change and International Non-Governmental Organizations,” in International Law and Global Climate Change: International Legal Issues and Implications, ed. R. Churchill and D. Freestone (Graham & Trotman: 1991), 95–108.

Journal Articles

  • “Complementarity and the Eradication of Modern Day Slavery,” Journal of International Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press) (forthcoming 2016) (with L. Smith).

  • “International Tribunals and the Right to a Speedy Trial: Problems and Possible Remedies” (with F. Gaynor), Law in Context 27 (2010): 33–77.

  • “International Criminal Law: Past and Future,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 30 (2009): 1281–1294.

  • Book Review, “International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans: Virtual Trials and the Struggle for State Cooperation, by Victor A. Peskin,” International Journal of Transitional Justice 3 (April 2009): 284–286.

  • “Note: Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Orders Regarding the Detention of Persons & Memorandum of Understanding,” International Legal Matters 48 (2009): 1149-1151.

  • “The Registry,” The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice, ed. A. Cassese. (Oxford University Press, 2008).

  • “Final Report of the International Criminal Law Services (ICLS) Experts on the Sustainable Transition of the Registry and International Donor Support to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009” (with Alexsandar Kontić), (International Criminal Law Services Foundation: 2008), 21.

  • “The Ends of Justice: Closing International Tribunals,” International Justice Tribune Series, 2007: Issues and Prospects at the Closing of the First International Courts (2008), 10–19.

  • “Whither the Rule of Law in an Age of Terror?” Studies in Transnational Legal Policy 39 (2008): 77–88.

  • “United Nations Reform and Supporting the Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies,” (with Andrew Soloman), Harvard Human Rights Journal 19 (2006): 29–62.

  • “Reflections on the ICTY Registry.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 2 (2004): 480–485.

  • “The Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI): New Projects and Groundbreaking Programmatic Developments,” Tax Exempt Organization Review 41 (August 2003), 27.

  • “The ICTY and Defense Counsel: A Troubled Relationship,” New England Law Review 37 (2002-2003), 975–86.

  • “The ICTY: Unforeseen Successes and Foreseeable Shortcomings,” Fletcher Forum 26 (2002): 7–19.

  • ‘“The Office of the President” (with J. Cina), The Procedural Law of the ICTY: 85–97.

  • “The Statute of the ICC” (with M. Bergsmo), Wig & Gavel 11 (1999): 21–26.

  • “The ICTY and Enforcement of Sentences,” Leiden Journal of International Law 11 (1998): 655–669.

  • “The Registry in The Hague.” Tribunal (April/May 1997).

  • “Defining the Environment.” Environmental Protection 5 (1992): 257–61.

Tributes and Forwards

  • "Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law,” in Rule of Law through Human Rights and International Criminal Justice: Essays in Honor of Adama Dieng, ed. C. Majaninge (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 431–444.

  • “The Legacy of International and Hybrid Tribunals – Are Human Rights More Respected?” in Promoting Accountability under International Law for Gross Human Rights Violations in Africa: Essays in Honor of Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow (Brill, 2015) (with L. Smith).

  • "Transitional Justice, An Essential Element of the Rule of Law", in A Revolution in International Rule of Law: Essays in Honor of Don Wallace, Jr., eds. B. Sabahi, N. Birch, I. Laird, J. Rivas (Juris, 2014), 59–72.

  • “Aryeh Neier and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia”, in International Justice Legends: Essays in Honor of Aryeh Neier, ed. K. Askin (Open Society Institute, 2013), 290–295.

  • “The Sine Qua Non of the ICTY,” in The Rise of International Justice: A Tribute to Aryeh Neier (Open Society Foundations: 2013), 190-195.

  • “Judge Wald at the ICTY: A Tribute,” International Criminal Law Review 11 (2011): 383-390.

  • Forward to The International Criminal Court and National Courts: A Contentious Relationship, by N. N. Jurdi (Ashgate: 2011).

  • “Tribute to Hon. Patricia M. Wald,” New York University Annual Survey of American Law 66:1 (2010): 19-22.

  • Essays on ICTY Procedure and Evidence in Honour of Gabrielle Kirk McDonald. (ed. with Judge Richard May et al.), (Brill: 2000).

Other Writings

  • “The Establishment of the ICTY” and “Cooperation,” in Blackstone’s International Criminal Practice (Oxford University Press) (forthcoming 2016).

  • The Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Law and Practice, co-editor (Oxford University Press, 2014).

  • “United States Government Engagement with the International Criminal Court Post-Kampala: Victims and Affected Communities,” in Beyond Kampala: Next Steps for U.S. Principled Engagement with the International Criminal Court (America Society of International Law, 2010), 57-66.

  • “Stocktaking: Peace and Justice” (with Marieke Wierda), (ICTJ: 2010).

Selected Op-eds & Interviews