The Role of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals in Post-Conflict Societies
Human Rights and Conflict: Essays in Honour of Bas de Gaay Fortman, I. Boerefijn et al (eds.), (Intersentia, 2012), pp. 367-385
15 Pages Posted: 27 May 2012
Date Written: March 21, 2012
The international criminal courts and tribunals considered in this book chapter are the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). A brief overview of the establishment of these international criminal courts and tribunals and others of a mixed nature is provided in the next section (Section 2). In turn, through assessing some of the stated objectives of international criminal justice and accomplishments of these international judicial bodies, a broad picture is painted of their role and impact on the societies affected (Section 3). Subsequently, a general critical review of international criminal justice at work is provided (Section 4), followed by some concluding remarks (Section 5).
It should be noted, however, that using the term post-conflict society might be somewhat misleading since conflicts within these societies might still persist long after mass or systemic violence has ended, albeit the conflict is expressed in non-violent forms. It should be also recalled that the conflict in the former Yugoslavia had not yet finished when the United Nations (UN) Security Council established the ICTY and that some of the situations the ICC has been dealing with concern ongoing conflicts, like that in the Darfur, Sudan. While the approach taken here is ‘downstream’ rather than ‘upstream’, by contrasting the work of these international judicial bodies and their purported accomplishments to their perception and impact on the ground, a broad picture will eventually emerge of possibilities and limitations of international criminal justice mechanisms in rendering justice and fostering reconciliation in societies affected by violent conflicts and the need to complement these mechanisms with economic and social justice reform measures and economic development assistance.
Keywords: international courts and tribunals, international criminal justice, justice and reconciliation
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