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From Sovereign Impunity to International Accountability: The Search for Justice in a World of States
Edited by Ramesh Thakur and Peter Malcontent
ISBN: 92-808-1100-2
August 2004
  360 pages
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    “The last century has seen the role of law and justice in governance extend beyond the realm of individual nations. Its significance, both regionally and globally, is illustrated by the developments made in international law, especially with regard to the recognition of international human rights, universal jurisdiction and additional international crimes. However, the significant advances with regard to the international recognition of humanitarian law and the ending of impunity for war criminals stand in real danger of being reversed

  • - From the Foreword by Justice Richard J. Goldstone

    “One of the functions of criminal law is to serve as a collective memory of past injustice. A criminal trial brings past suffering into public knowledge. It may thus enable a victimized community to deal with trauma and, perhaps, to create the conditions of future social life. But recording past injustice and creating the conditions of national reconciliation are not always best realized through criminal law. Evidence available, even of massive violations, may not always fulfill the formal criteria for criminal accountability. The way from the opening of a mass grave to proving a political leader responsible is long and complex, and success is by no means ensured. In cases like this, a criminal trial may not always provide the best instrument for memory and healing - especially if the leader must be released because of the lack of formal evidence. On the other hand, if releasing the leader is excluded at the outset, then the legitimacy of the trial may be questioned...

  • /i>
    - From the Preface by Martti Ahtisaari

    From Sovereign Impunity to International Accountability confronts these and other challenges by exploring the changing political and human rights context that gave rise to the international norm of individual criminal accountability. It brings together a preeminent group of experts to explore the progress, scope and controversies of international accountability.

    Ramesh Thakur is the Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University, Tokyo. Peter Malcontent is a researcher and lecturer at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University, Utrecht.


  • Foreword
  • The role of law and justice in governance: Regional and global
  • Preface
  • Justice and accountability: Local or international?
  • Introduction
  • Human rights and peace: Two sides of the same coin
  • Part I: The historical and political background of international criminal accountability
  • From impunity to accountability: Forces of transformation and the changing international human rights context
  • From the Nuremberg Charter to the Rome Statute: A historical analysis of the limits of international criminal accountability
  • International criminal justice and the United States: Law, culture, power
  • Violations of human rights and humanitarian law and threats to international peace and security
  • Part II: The functioning of ad hoc tribunals and the ICC
  • The individual within international law
  • Gender-related crimes: A feminist perspective
  • International criminal courts and the admissibility of evidence
  • Balancing the rights of the accused with the imperatives of accountability
  • We the people: The position of NGOs in gathering evidence and giving witness at international criminal trials
  • Democracy, global governance and the International Criminal Court
  • Part III: Effectiveness and limitations
  • Reconciling fractured societies: An African perspective on the role of judicial prosecutions
  • Demystifying Osama bin Laden: Fair trials for international terrorists
  • The complexity of international criminal law: Looking beyond individual responsibility to the responsibility of organizations, corporations and states
  • The International Criminal Court and the prohibition of the use of children in armed conflict
  • The International Criminal Court: Obstacle or contribution to an effective system of human rights protection?
  • Dealing with guilt beyond crime: The strained quality of universal justice


  • Peter Malcontent
  • Paul G. Lauren
  • Michael D. Biddiss
  • David P. Forsythe
  • George J. Andreopoulos
  • Michail Wladimiroff
  • Christine Chinkin
  • Bert Swart
  • William A. Schabas
  • Helen Durham
  • Madeline H. Morris
  • Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu
  • Geoffrey Robertson
  • Andrew Clapham
  • Julia Maxted
  • Cees Flinterman
  • Ramesh Thakur

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