Posted by: scardenas | July 25, 2011

Is this Justice?

This conversation between two prominent scholars, surveying how the idea of universal jurisdiction has evolved over the centuries, raises some intriguing questions.  Both characterize universal jurisdiction as radical in historical terms, even though they are aware of the inherent tensions surrounding the practice; they are not at all deluded in assuming that universal jurisdiction is a fully effective means of securing accountability.  Falk, in particular, reminds us of how international criminality is intimately bound up in geopolitics.  The fact that the victors of World War II created today’s system of international justice, equating the losing side with everything reprehensible, is a contradiction and flaw at the core of today’s universal jurisdiction model.  Without quite saying it, Falk’s and Hajjar’s comments push us to think of accountability beyond individual perpetrators–as a broader social and global phenomenon.  Who is prosecuted, and who isn’t?  And on some level, is the process of accountability as important as the outcome?

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