Book Review: Naomi Roht-Arriaza, The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights

4 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2011 Last revised: 8 Sep 2011

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

University of Houston Law Center; Yale University - Law School; Stanford Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2006


This piece, published in the Yale Journal of International Law, reviews Naomi Roht-Arriaza’s book, The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights. Roht-Arriaza’s book argues that the effort to bring the late General Augusto Pinochet to justice set an important precedent in international law and politics: leaders who committed crimes while in office could no longer shield themselves from prosecution behind the protection of sovereign immunity. However, after analyzing various challenges for prosecutions of suspected atrocity perpetrators through war crimes tribunals (e.g., the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) and claims of universal jurisdiction, this book review argues that “[t]he legitimacy of the Pinochet precedent is certainly not as widely held as Roht-Arriaza would suggest.” Rather, the book review asserts, “[t]he advent of universal jurisdiction and the ICC may be promising, but they are no panacea for the many problems - legal, political, cultural, economic, moral, logistical - of cases like Pinochet’s that Roht-Arriaza explores.” The book review concludes by acknowledging that Roht-Arriaza’s “scholarship adds great value to the expanding literature on transitional justice” while observing that her book “does not satisfactorily address some of the inherent problems and tensions in this emerging field.”

Keywords: Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic, Transnational Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Justice, Universal Jurisdiction, Alien Tort Statute, ICC, ICTR, ICTY, War Crimes Tribunals, Chile, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., Book Review: Naomi Roht-Arriaza, The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights (2006). Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 297-300, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

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