Atrocities and International Accountability

Beyond Transitional Justice

Edel Hughes, William A. Schabas, Ramesh Thakur
Release Date: November 1, 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.