About the Project

The Virtual Tribunals project is a major initiative of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, which aims to compile a comprehensive database of international criminal tribunal records and rendered searchable through a single online portal.

The Center has been working on various phases and iterations of this project for a number of years, including before the Center came to Stanford and was based at UC Berkeley as the War Crimes Studies Center. The Center's move to Stanford enabled a collaboration with the Stanford Libraries on the project, moving it from a prototype driven set of explorations to a platform intended for longevity and curatorial commitment.

International criminal tribunals are generally ad hoc institutions responsible for investigating crimes against humanity and other matters of grave concern and operate with limited term. There is great potential that the documentary record of these tribunals will disappear. Thus, the materials need a long-term preservation and access strategy. The vision of the Virtual Tribunals Project has been to create such a platform to provide access to this documentation long after these tribunals and their residual mechanisms finish operations.

The objective is to facilitate free access to a comprehensive database of archival material from the tribunals and truth commissions around the globe, on a platform that makes discovery of materials far easier and more efficient than is currently the case for both legally trained users and lay-audiences, including populations directly affected by conflict or living in relevant diaspora communities.

This project takes seriously the question of how temporary justice institutions might leave behind a legacy that will be of lasting value for scholars, experts, and international students, as well as for the people of the post-conflict societies in whose name investigations and accountability have been pursued.

Utilizing Spotlight, an open source software platform, and the Stanford Digital Repository, the Virtual Tribunals platform is intended facilitate multilingual access to archival material from the tribunals and truth commissions established in the wake of mass-atrocity around the globe.

The first collection made available here consisted of court records from the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor. More recently we added records from the Taube Archive of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg (1945-1946). We anticipate continuing to grow further this year with additional post-WWII collections from the U.S. Military War Crimes Trials in Europe and in the Far East. Beyond that, other forthcoming collections from more recent international criminal tribunals will include video and audio recordings of court proceedings, alongside transcripts, and evidence presented at trial.

Except where otherwise noted, content within this exhibit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The rights status for trial records presented as part of this exhibit can be viewed by clicking the "More details" link on the item page for each object.