Summary of "Post-Conflict Justice, International and Comparative Criminal Law Series"

Summary of

Post-Conflict Justice, International and Comparative Criminal Law Series

By M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed.

Summary written by Eric Brahm, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Bassiouni, M. Cherif, ed. 2002. Post-Conflict Justice, International and Comparative Criminal Law Series. Ardsley, N.Y.: Transnational Publishers.

This wide-ranging collection is an important primer for anyone interested in learning the state of the art of transitional justice. Bassiouni has brought together thirty scholars and experts to provide discussions on a variety of topics related to accountability for past human rights violations. It discusses a variety measures that have been used from ad hoc international criminal tribunals to truth commissions to lustration. Some authors examine the use of amnesty for past deeds. Others explore issues pertaining to the restoration of law and order and the rebuilding of failed national justice systems. It provides a number of guidelines to help achieve accountability and eliminate impunity. Another clear benefit is it provides UN documents and original source material relevant to a number of the chapters. As with any volume this large, it could use greater over-arching structure to tie things together and try to resolve some of the conflicting views, but this is a difficult task for such an ambitious undertaking.

The volume takes up a number of significant issues. Chapters explore the growing obligations in international law related to providing accountability for human rights violations. Authors also consider the role of civil society in facilitating accountability and how justice considerations figure in peace talks. One chapter addresses the delicate question of reparations. One important section of the book engages the question of how to assess different types of accountability mechanisms, a welcome addition to the transitional justice literature. In particular, three chapters focus on evaluating truth commissions. Lustration and the use of public law in the construction of collective memory are also considered. The next section is a collection of case-studies that explore in greater depth a range of judicial models. Chapters examine the international tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the UN role in East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia as well as the International Criminal Court. It also considers national efforts at achieving justice in Ethiopia and Chechnya as well as non-judicial forms of pursuing justice in South Africa, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Austria.

Authors in the next section address how peacekeeping can be made more compatible with the pursuit of justice. Chapters consider how the military can better support the establishment of the rule of law and provide policing, enhance civil-military relations, and the difficulties of conducting investigations of gross human rights violations in such a context. The final section examines ways in which the international community can help ensure post-conflict justice is realized. Authors consider cooperation in pursuing prosecution and punishment, the provision of legal assistance, and emerging principles of universal jurisdiction.