In 1995, in response to a request for assistance from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), American University Washington College of Law created the War Crimes Research Office (WCRO) with financial support from the Open Society Institute (OSI). Since that time, several new war crimes tribunals have been established under the auspices or with the support of the United Nations, each raising novel legal issues. This, in turn, has generated growing demands for the expert assistance of the WCRO. As a result, in addition to the ICTY and ICTR, the WCRO has provided in-depth research support to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in East Timor (Special Panels) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). In 2006, the WCRO began providing similar assistance to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
With the participation of WCL students and faculty, as well as a variety of other international experts and consultants, the WCRO completed more than 80 major research projects for international courts and tribunals around the world in its first ten years.