Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters
Chapter 11: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the rule of law
Indicators such as access to justice, effectiveness and efficiency, integrity, transparency and accountability are well accepted in democratic societies with a strong rule of law tradition. Governments, international organisations and civil society play an integral role in safeguarding it. When governments fall short of their responsibility and civil society or the media are unable to sufficiently influence or denounce government practices, the international community may have a duty to act in the most grievous of situations. At least this is the position that has been largely argued. In those circumstances, the responsibility to uphold the rule of law may rise to the international level. The creation of international criminal tribunals, such as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) with jurisdiction over the most heinous crimes, may be considered acceptable in such contexts. To be clear, as a general rule, the establishment of ad hoc international criminal tribunals with jurisdiction over offences committed within the territorial boundaries of a sovereign State is an anomaly. Crimes should normally be investigated and tried in the country where they have been committed, by the local authorities and judiciary of that State. It is in the interest of the citizens of that State, the victims and the accused that this be so. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the international community should intervene and take over the responsibility of a State to investigate, prosecute and try.
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