As of November 2005, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) had handed down judgments for only 25 individuals. More than $1 billion has been spent on the tribunal so far, or about $40 million per judgment. By contrast, South Africa's truth commission processed 7,116 amnesty applications for less than $4,300 per case. In post-conflict Mozambique, programs to demobilize and reintegrate thousands of former combatants cost about $1,000 per case. Rwandan community leaders aren't shy about saying that the more than $1 billion the UN has so far poured into the ICTR could have been better spent....Why do people believe that internationalizing something makes it inherently better, more legitimate, or more just (I'll be examining this question -- the sources of international legitimacy -- in a few days)? In cases like Milosevic or Hussein, kangaroo courts to air what is already known should be sufficient. For other, more widespread situations like in Rwanda, South Africa, or Mozambique, leave the pursuit of justice up to the nation itself. It will proceed in the manner it best sees fit.
The courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo were part of a broader political project that aimed to rehabilitate the occupied countries socially and economically, not simply to try guilt or innocence or hand out hard punishments. The Allies enaced a punitive policy towards Germany a quarter-century earlier, with disastrous results. The US-dominated courts established after World War II were stream-lined and efficient -- perhaps to a fault. At Nuremberg, defendants were given no meaningful right of appeal, and the prosecution was able to introduce documentary evidence into the record that defendants could not challenge. But the fact that many due-process concerns were swept aside meant that the court completed its work in less than 11 months; 10 of the 22 defendants were hanged on Oct. 16, 1946....
By contrast, the international courts for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and the new ICC in The Hague operate under civilian law and provide generous protections to defendants. The result is a ballooning of the courts' timelines and costs. It took the ICTR 10 years to complete the same number of trials that Nuremberg conducted in less than a year. The trial of Slobodan Milosevic is now in its fourth year. Nor have these societies been able to make a clean break with their past. The protracted and always polarizing exercises that are today's war crimes trials cannot serve the same decisive political and social function that Nuremberg did....
Because most atrocities these days are committed during violence intergroup conflict, most survivors seek first and foremost an end to the fighting and to regain basic economic and social stability. That is no small matter. Nations have found various ways to deal with perpetrators of violent acts, and throughout history many of these methods have given priority to the reintegration of wrongdoers into normal, nonviolent existence. In Mozambique, the 1992 peace accord than ended 15 years of civil war mandated a blanket amnesty for all those who committed war crimes. It also provided for the demobilization of fighters from both sides and their reintegration into civilian life....Nearly all the Mozambicans I talked to between 2001 and 2003 expressed great satisfaction with the 1992 amnesty. Most said they could not imagine prosecuting people who had committed wartime atrocities. "If we did, the whole nation would be on trial," one man said. Satisfaction with amnesties can be found elsewhere. In South Africa, researchers found in 2001 that more than 75 percent of black citizens were satisfied with the work of the truth commission -- which offered complete amnesties to former perpetrators who met its conditions.
Friday, February 24, 2006
"The False Hope of International Justice"
As I've made clear in previous posts both here and at Opinio Juris, I'm no big fan of international law, and in particular, of international courts as a way to seek justice. In this month's Foreign Policy, Helena Cobban has an excellent piece (unfortunately, it's not available on-line yet) making the case that "criminal tribunals...have squandered billions of dollars, failed to advance human rights, and ignored the wishes of the victims they claim to represent." Here are some of the choicest pieces: