Towards an Integrative Approach
Edited by Harmen Van der Wilt and Christophe Paulussen
Chapter 13: Privatisation and increasing complexity of mass violence in Mexico and Central America: exploring appropriate international responses
Mass violence in Mexico and Central America has undergone a process of privatisation and decentralisation over the past decades. States have lost their predominant position in the panorama of violence while a very wide range of non-state actors has risen. Although certain state actors in the region do commit serious human rights violations, they do equally grave damage by their omission to stop the various violent criminal actors active on their territories. In this contribution we analyse the role international law and international institutions can play in Mexico and Central America. In our view, the international criminal law framework provided by the Rome Statute is of limited relevance to the situation. Although certain crimes committed in the region may be qualified as crimes against humanity, the international criminal law framework was not designed for this kind of decentralised violence panorama. Moreover, institutionally the ICC is ill-equipped to intervene in this situation. Rather than merely being punished for the commission of crimes or for complicity therein, the states in the region should be encouraged to take more effective action against the escalation of privately organised violence on their territories. To that end, the Inter-American human rights system provides a normative framework that includes both states’ positive obligations to investigate and prosecute serious human rights violations occurring on their territory, as well as their negative obligations in terms of abstaining from practices like torture, arbitrary detention, or extra-judicial executions. Institutionally, the hybrid and innovative intervention of the CICIG (the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala) has shown remarkable effectiveness in improving the performance of the Guatemalan justice system. We argue that the centrepiece for the international (legal) community in addressing the situation in Mexico and Central America should be the Inter-American system and CICIG-like interventions.
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