Atrocities and International Accountability: Beyond Transitional Justice

Sample Chapter
  • Edited Edel Hughes, William A. Schabas and Ramesh Thakur

    Atrocities and International Accountability: Beyond Transitional Justice
    ISBN-10: 92-808-1141-X,
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1141-4
    United Nations University Press
    June 2007

    Rebuilding societies where conflict has occurred is rarely a simple process; but where conflict has been accompanied by gross and systematic violations of human rights, the procedure becomes fraught with controversy.

    The traditional debate on ‘transitional justice’ sought to balance justice, truth, accountability, and peace and stability. The appearance of impunity for past crimes undermines confidence in new democratic structures and casts doubt upon commitments to human rights. Yet the need to consolidate peace sometimes resulted in reluctance on the part of authorities—both local and international—to confront suspected perpetrators of human rights violations, especially when they are a part of a peace process. Experience in many regions of the world therefore suggested a trade-off between peace and justice.

    However, there is a growing consensus that some form of justice and accountability are integral to – rather than in tension with – peace and stability. This volume considers if we are truly going beyond the ‘transitional justice’ debate. It brings together eminent scholars and practitioners with direct experience of some of the most challenging contemporary cases of international justice, and illustrates that justice and accountability remain complex ideals.


    William A. Schabas is Professor of Human Rights Law at National University of Ireland in Galway, and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Ramesh Thakur is Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo and an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Edel Hughes is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland.

    Contents Overview

    • Introduction, William A. Schabas, Ramesh Thakur, and Edel Hughes
    • How to Come to Terms with the Past, Peter R. Baehr
    • Reconciliation or Transitional Justice?, Rama Mani
    • Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa Assessed, Helena Cobban
    • Dilemmas of Dealing with the Past in New Democracies, Jorge Heine
    • East Timor’s Search for Justice and Reconciliation, Jeff Kingston
    • Why International Criminal Justice has a Bleak Future, Jeremy Rabkin
    • Prosecuting West Africa’s Warlords, David M. Crane
    • Prosecutorial Discretion in Practice, Matthew Brubacher
    • Alternatives to Prosecution, Gerald Gahima
    • Independence and Impartiality of the International Judiciary, William A. Schabas
    • Impartiality Deficit and International Criminal Judging, Diane M. Amann
    • The Effect of Amnesties Before Domestic and International Tribunals, Leila N. Sadat
    • The Contemporary Law and Policy Debate, Michael P. Scharf
    • Conclusion, William A. Schabas and Ramesh Thakur