The Politics of Ending Impunity

TitleThe Politics of Ending Impunity
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleICG-article, published in "The Enforcement of International Criminal Law"
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFlintoft, C, Grono, N
Number of Pages5 pp.
PublisherThe Aegis Trust
Accession Number1231

"The politics of ending impunity"
This article appears in the Aegis Trust's 2009 publication "The Enforcement of International Criminal Law".Introduction:
The pursuit of international justice for perpetrators of atrocity crimes necessarily has political implications - from shifting the balance of power within a country, to requiring other states to cooperate when doing so may adversely affect their own interests, to confronting both international and domestic actors with the undesirable task of weighing the benefits of peace against the costs of impunity. Not all of these issues are present in every case, but few, if any, international prosecutions escape controversy. And the more closely international investigations and indictments follow on the heels of atrocities, the more likely they are to generate political challenges. Yet this more swift international justice is also what we are starting to see more often, particularly with the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Instead of delaying justice for years after the end of deadly conflict, or allowing impunity to prevail permanently, the ICC can inject criminal accountability into the equation immediately. This is true both for the situations into which the Court has already opened formal investigations and for those that could end up in that category. But prioritising justice in this way still leaves a lot to be done to actually achieve it. The political dilemmas it can raise, as we have seen most starkly in Sudan and Uganda, are substantial.
Thus, it is important to understand how the pursuit of international justice can affect situations of ongoing (or recent) conflict and to have a framework for addressing the difficult issue of determining when, in the case of a true clash between peace and justice, the latter should give way. This paper aims to outline these issues, looking in particular at certain situations in which the ICC has been active.

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