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Transnational Judicial Dialogue and the Rwandan Genocide: Aspects of Antagonism and Complementarity


Leila N. Sadat


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

December 9, 2008

Leiden Journal of International Law, Forthcoming
Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 08-12-01

Abstract:     
The Rwandan genocide remains one of the most horrific atrocities of the Twentieth Century, resulting in the death of an estimated 500-800,000 human beings, massacred over a one hundred day period. In the fourteen years since the genocide, attempts at justice and reconciliation in Rwanda have involved a delicate interplay between national legal systems and the international legal order. This article examines three fora in which Rwandans have been tried for involvement in the genocide: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Rwandan courts including Gacaca Tribunals, and French attempts to exercise universal jurisdiction. Using Rwanda as a case study, the article illustrates the issues, concerns, and difficulties that arise when multiple jurisdictions assert a right to exercise criminal jurisdiction over the perpetrators of serious atrocity crimes. Beginning with a discussion of the political context, this article considers what the competing narratives and litigation in various fora have meant for the project of international and transnational criminal justice. Cases involving the commission of atrocities pose unique challenges for the international legal order. As the normative structure of international criminal law has arguably been strengthened, political constraints increasingly come to the fore. As illustrated in Rwanda, universal jurisdiction or other bases of jurisdiction may remain necessary vehicles for justice and reconciliation, or, at the very least, they may serve as catalyst for change in Rwanda itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: transjudicial dialogue, international criminal law, Rwandan genocide, universal jurisdiction, terrorism, France

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Date posted: December 16, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Sadat, Leila N., Transnational Judicial Dialogue and the Rwandan Genocide: Aspects of Antagonism and Complementarity (December 9, 2008). Leiden Journal of International Law, Forthcoming; Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 08-12-01. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1313735

Contact Information

Leila N. Sadat (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-6411 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)
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