Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Bartram S. Brown
Chapter 8: The ICC investigation into the conflict in Northern Uganda: beyond the dichotomy of peace versus justice
Katharina Peschke INTRODUCTION One cynical joke runs: ‘If you murder one person, you are sent to prison. If you murder ten people, you are sent to a mental institution. If you murder ten thousand people, you are sent to a conference room for peace talks.’ Does the message behind this quip still hold true today, in a time when more than 100 states are party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court? When will those responsible for the killing of thousands of people go to prison instead of participating in peace negotiations where, for the sake of peace, no one will insist that they be punished? The last 15 years have seen the dramatically fast-paced coming-of-age of international criminal justice. The creation of two ad hoc tribunals, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was followed by the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which aspires to global reach. And as exemplified by the trials of Slobodan Milosevic, Charles Taylor and Jean Kambanda, individual criminal accountability has become a real possibility, even for the mighty. Insistence on criminal accountability, however, remains controversial where it is seen to interfere with attempts to end a conflict. Three main positions can be sketched concerning the impact of international criminal justice on the prospects for peace. The first argues that the threat of international criminal justice acts as a deterrent to those involved in the conflict. According to this optimistic theory, military leaders will...
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