“There can be no healing without peace; there can be no peace without justice; and there can be no justice without respect for human rights and rule of law.”
— Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General
The international community must bring perpetrators to justice regardless of how many obstacles need to be overcome or how much time it takes. Otherwise, mass killing is one step closer to happening again.
In recent years, the international community has created several methods to help ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities are brought to justice. Three tools for pursuing justice include the International Criminal Court (ICC); regional tribunals; and truth and reconciliation commissions.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
The Court represents a major advance in international justice. The ICC was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute in order to prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
In July 2012, the ICC completed its first trial, sentencing Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the Democratic Republic of Congo to fourteen years in prison for conscripting child soldiers for use in battle. In addition to Lubanga, trials against Katanga and Ngudjolo’s have also been concluded.
The ICC is actively involved with cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Libya, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda.
Prior to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, international courts and tribunals were established to investigate and try individuals accused of perpetrating genocide or other serious violations of international humanitarian law within a specific country.
The United Nations established several courts and tribunals in countries including Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia in order to ensure justice for mass atrocities.
Truth and Reconciliation Commissions
Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been established in over 30 countries including South Africa, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala and Liberia. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions can contribute to national reconciliation and can help victims and their families find closure.
They also serve an essential role of providing a record of the atrocities to keep the truth from being skewed.