David Tolbert

Advisory Board

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


  • “Media and Transitional Justice: A Dream of Symbiosis in a Troubled Relationship”, in D. Jacobs, C. Lawther, and L. Moffett (eds), Research Handbook on Transitional Justice, (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2017) (with R. Hodzic).

  • “Thirty Years After Nunca Más: Is the International Community Abandoning the Fight Against Impunity?” in Robin Kirk (ed.) “Commissioning Truths: Essays on the 30th Anniversary of Nunca Más”, (Duke University: Durham, North Carolina, 2016).

  • “Complementarity and the Eradication of Modern Day Slavery”, 14 Journal of International Criminal Justice 2 (2016), 429-451 (with L. Smith).

  • “The Establishment of the ICTY” and “Cooperation”, in Blackstone’s International Criminal Practice (Oxford University Press) (forthcoming 2017).

  • “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), chapter 11.

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

  • "Introduction" and "The Registry", in The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, chapters 11 and 14.

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

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

  • "The ICTY and the Transfer of Cases/Materials to National Judicial Authorities: Lessons in Complementarity", in Stahn/El Zeidyl (eds.), The ICC and Complementarity: From Theory to Practice, (Cambridge University Press, 2011), chapter 28 (with A. Kontic).

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

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

  • "United States Government Engagement with the International Criminal Court Post-Kampala: Victims and Affected Communities", Beyond Kampala: Next Steps for US Principled Engagement with the International Criminal Court 57–66 (American Society of International Law, 2010).

  • “International Tribunals and the Right to a Speedy Trial: Problems and Possible Remedies”, 28 Law in Context 33–77 (2010) (with F. Gaynor).

  • "Tribute to Hon. Patricia Wald", 66 New York University Annual Survey of American Law 19–23 (2010).

  • "Note: Special Tribunal for Lebanon: Orders Regarding the Detention of Persons & MOU", 48 International Legal Materials 1149–1161 (2009).

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

  • Book Review of International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans, by Victor Peskin, 3 International Journal of Transitional Justice 284–286 (July 2009).

  • "The ICTY: Transitional Justice, the Transfer of Cases and Lessons for the ICC", in C. Stahn and G. Sluiter (eds.) The Emerging Practice of the ICC, 135–162 (Brill, 2008) (with A. Kontic).

  • "Whither the Rule of Law in an Age of Terror?" in "International Humanitarian Dialogues", 39 Studies in Transnational Legal Policy 77–86 (2008).

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

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

  • Article 43–50,115–117, in O. Triffterer (ed.), Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court., 981–1031, 1705–22 (C.H Beck, Hart, Nomos, 2nd ed., 2008) (with co-authors).

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

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

  • "The Protection of, and Assistance to, Witnesses at the ICTY", in H. Abtahi and G. Boas (eds.), The Dynamics of International Criminal Justice, 193–229 (Brill, 2006) (with F. Swinnen).

  • "Reflections on the ICTY Registry", 2 International Criminal Law Journal Review 480–485 (2004).

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

  • "ICTY and Defense Counsel: A Troubled Relationship", 37 New England Law Review 975–98 (2003)

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

  • Co-editor with Judge Richard May et al., The Procedural Law of the ICTY: Essays in Honor of President McDonald (Kluwer, 2000).

  • "The Office of the President," The Procedural Law of the ICTY 85–97 (with J. Cina).

  • "Enforcement of Sentences," The Procedural Law of the ICTY 533–543 (with A. Rydberg).

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

  • "The Statute of the ICC", 11 Wig & Gavel 21–26 (1999) (with M. Bergsma).

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

  • "Toward an International Criminal Court”, in Danieli et al., (eds.) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Fifty Years and Beyond 99 – 112 (Baywood Publishing Company,1998) (with R. Clark).

  • "The Registry in The Hague", Tribunal (April/May 1997).

  • "Defining the Environment," in G. Plant (ed.), Environmental Protection/The Law of War 257–61 (Belhaven 1992).

  • "Global Climate Change and International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)", in R. Churchill and D. Freestone (eds.), International Law and Global Climate Change 95–108 (Graham & Trotman 1991).

Selected Op-Eds