JPIL Vol 6 Issue 2 2015 - Article 1

‘THE WORLD’S COURT OF JUSTICE’:A HISTORIOGRAPHY OF WAR CRIMES PROSECUTIONS
 
Tiphaine Dickson
 
Abstract
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established by the Security Council of the United Nations in 1993 and 1994, respectively, faced the already daunting task of carrying out complex criminal prosecutions, with little jurisprudential guidance, in often extremely unfavorable conditions. Despite the innumerable practical, legal, financial and political challenges these institutions faced, they chose to take on an additional and unnecessary responsibility for which they were woefully ill-equipped: writing history. This article explores the incompatibility between the craft of history and institutions of international criminal law, and argues that court written history degrades both. Moreover, contrary to the tribunals’ claims that their writing history in the context of the criminal prosecution of individuals serves to combat denial; they contribute to precisely such historical distortions, in particular in the context of World War II atrocities.

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