Copyright (c) 2005 Virginia Journal of International Law
Virginia Journal of International Law
NOTE: Sustaining Judicial Rescues: The Role of Outreach and Capacity-Building Efforts in War Crimes Tribunals
45 Va. J. Int'l L. 547
In response to criticism that ad hoc tribunals are nothing more than fig leaves attempting to mask the international community's failure to prevent war crimes, Richard Goldstone has recently defended the shortcomings of the tribunals on the grounds that this is an area where we do not have time to perfect a solution. 1
Such a conclusion may perhaps be justified in the past tense. In the early 1990s, the international community was animated by a sense of urgency to respond to the security crisis in the Balkans, and the hastily-bundled set of responses included the establishment of a tribunal. 2 But the idea that such urgency is always present and so acute that it prevents serious reflection and a search for better solutions is a false and dangerous one. It ignores the vigorous attention that governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and scholars continue to devote in order to developing better accountability mechanisms. It also perpetuates the idea that the preface "ad hoc" means more than the task of adapting broad principles of institutionalized accountability to specific contexts, that it should also resign us to constantly learn anew the best practices for war crimes tribunals.
Since responding to war crimes always will be an importunate task, the true urgency lies in reflecting on past successes and failures in order to construct an ethical and strategic framework for sustaining the effect of judicial rescues. Demands for tribunals as a way of dealing with past conflicts have been ...
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