Jean-Pelé Fomété

carolina de lima seated in chair

In this excerpt from his oral history for the Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, Jean-Pelé Fomété, former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda legal adviser and programs director, reflects on innovative strategies adopted by the Registry of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania. (3:22)

Interview conducted 26 May 2015 in The Hague, Netherlands, by Linda Carter and Leigh Swigart.


Interview Content

In this interview, Jean-Pelé Fomété reminisces about his early work at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); disgruntlement with the early negative evaluations of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ITCR); ICTR underestimation of how long trials would take; difficulties using United Nations procedures and accounting for persons needing to remain anonymous; traveling to Cameroon to carry out the arrest warrant of ICTR accused André Ntagerura; willingness of the Malian authorities to accept ICTR convicted persons into their prisons; mixed feelings about the ICTR after 14 years of employment; power of the Arusha "spirit" that infused ICTR staff; and taking lessons learned at the ICTR to his subsequent post as U.N. Dispute Tribunal registrar.

He discusses events in Africa around the time of the Rwandan genocide; similarities between conflicts in the Balkans and Rwanda; disparity in infrastructure between the ICTY and ICTR; setting up various services of the ICTR Registry; creation of the ICTR press center; ICTR innovations in court transcription and interpretation practices; institutional cooperation among the ICTY, ICTR and Special Court for Sierra Leone, and later the International Criminal Court; ICTR innovation in combining distributive with retributive justice; civil and common law interactions; challenges of delivering justice while building a system; disappointment about the reluctance of countries to host ICTR acquitted persons; improvement of prison conditions in countries where ICTR convicted persons have served sentences; and the development of the ICTR outreach program.

read transcript of full interview

Biographical Information

Jean-Pelé Fomété earned a bachelor's degree in law from the Université de Yaoundé, a master's and doctorate in international relations from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon and a Master of Business Administration from the Maastricht School of Management. His professional positions include chief of the United Nations Political and Legal Affairs Service, Ministry of External Relations of Cameroon; law clerk at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1996; legal adviser and special counsel to the registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 1997-2002; programs director at the ICTR Registry, 2002-09; registrar at the U.N. Dispute Tribunal, Nairobi, 2009-13; and deputy registrar at the International Court of Justice, 2013 to present.