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NCJ Number: 199890 Find in a Library
Title: Truth and Justice in the Aftermath of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
Journal: Punishment & Society  Volume:5  Issue:2  Dated:April 2003  Pages:207-214
Author(s): Joseph Nevins
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 8
Type: Book Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses two books dealing with the aftermath of war crimes.
Abstract: The first book examines the factors that led to the establishment of judicial mechanisms by victorious parties in the aftermath of international conflicts. It defines the belief that it is right for war criminals to be put on trial as “legalism” and argues that it arises from “a particular kind of liberal domestic polity.” Tribunals are viewed as an extension of the law from the domestic to the international sphere. Only a few liberal governments have a dedication to legalism. There are two pieces of evidence to support this argument. The first is that the support of liberal states has been decisive in establishing every international tribunal. The second is that “illiberal” states have never established a bona fide tribunal in the aftermath of wars between such states. The book focuses on five case studies of post-war justice: the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, Constantinople, the Second World War, and Yugoslavia. The second book argues that trials are limited in what they can accomplish due to their high cost, time- and resource-consuming nature, and difficulties of getting convictions. The official truth-seeking mechanisms are examined in a comparative study. The goal is to better understand how states and individuals come to terms with past gross human rights atrocities and to analyze the role of truth commissions in this process. Three key points emerge based on interviews with participants in truth commissions around the world. This first point is that a certain level of disappointment is very common among survivors of terror because expectations are excessive. The second point is that many of the problems encountered by truth commissions are universal. And the third point is that truth commissions can and often do have significant, long-term benefits that are totally unexpected at the outset, especially in the area of justice and accountability. A truth commission has the possibility of changing how a country understands and accepts its past and can help shape its future. 11 references
Main Term(s): Policy analysis; War crimes
Index Term(s): Analysis; Genocide; Human rights; Human rights violations; International agreements; Mass murders
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