Volume 80, Number 1

April 2005

In Pursuit of Accountability

Emily Ann Berman

The Red Cross, War Correspondents, and Evidentiary Privileges in International Criminal Tribunals

The International Committee of the Red Cross operates according to a policy of confidentiality, which it claims is necessary for it to carryout its humanitarian mandate successfully. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found that, as a matter of customary international law, the Red Cross is permitted to maintain its confidentiality policy at all times. This means that delegates of the Red Cross cannot be called to testify in any international criminal tribunal unless the Red Cross waives its privilege. Based on similar arguments about their need for confidentiality, however, war correspondents were granted a much more qualified privilege against testifying. In this Note, Emily Berman argues that Red Cross delegates and war correspondents are more similarly situated than it initially might seem. The Note uses a comparison of the two as a case study to illustrate that conferring absolute privilege on the Red Cross is unnecessary in the pursuit of humanitarian accountability. Therefore, international criminal tribunals should articulate a narrow, uniform test for privilege that applies to both the Red Cross and war correspondents. Under this test, in which the court retains the final decisionmaking power over who must testify, reluctant witnesses from both groups would be required to present confidential materialto the court when the information in their possession both goes to a core issue in the case and is not available from any other source.