Amnesties in a Time of Transition

42 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2011 Last revised: 29 Sep 2011

See all articles by Elizabeth Ludwin King

Elizabeth Ludwin King

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2010


International law is currently unsettled over the legality of amnesties granted for crimes committed during violent internal conflict. Though recent history shows that amnesties are often implemented to help a nation transition out of conflict, this has not always been the case. As amnesties have increasingly become viewed as a permissible tool for post-conflict recovery, a growing consensus of jurists and scholars have begun to argue that they should be subject to certain limitations. Specifically, many commentators believe that any amnesty must exclude perpetrators of serious crimes of international law and that there must be some form of redress for victims of massive human rights violations. This Article argues that this burgeoning consensus indicates the emergence of a new norm of customary international law. To be valid under this new norm, an amnesty must be necessary to end the conflict, must be fair to all parties involved, and must be narrowly tailored to the particular context.

Suggested Citation

Ludwin King, Elizabeth, Amnesties in a Time of Transition (January 1, 2010). George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 41, p. 577, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Ludwin King (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
919-428-7460 (Phone)

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