In a deviation from the usual practice, the fourth round of elections for the new permanent judges of the Tribunal in The Hague will be held not in the spring, but on 18 November 2004--exactly one year before their term of office begins.

The election of The Hague Tribunal’s 16 permanent judges, whose term runs from November 2005 until November 2009, will be held as early as 18 November this year. On the previous three occasions (1993, 1997 and 2001), elections at the UN General Assembly were held in the spring of the year in which the judges’ terms of office were to begin.

The decision on "early" elections was made at the proposal of ICTY President Judge Theodor Meron in order to determine in advance the composition of the Trial Chambers in the final phase of the Tribunal’s mandate. In order to be able to begin the trials that are expected to continue past 17 November 2005, when the term of office of the current permanent judges ends, the Tribunal must know the composition of the Trial Chambers that will continue to work past that date.

The majority of permanent judges are expected to apply for a second term of office, as are some of the judges that have taken part in the proceedings over the past few years as temporary or ad litem judges. Whenever the UN General Assembly has had to elect permanent judges so far, there were twice as many candidates as there were posts.

After the composition of the post-17 November 2005 Trial Chambers becomes known, the Tribunal will be able to begin trials in some of the complex cases on its waiting list.