CFR Study Advocates National Prosecutions for International Crimes
My former State Department colleague, David Kaye, now the Executive Director of UCLA Law’s human rights program, has just authored a study under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations (John Bellinger and Matt Waxman also particiapted in the effort as Directors). Kaye acknowleges the contributions made by the likes of the ICTY, ICTR, and ICC, but argues that more work is needed at the national level to supplement the international criminal law process. Here’s a summary of the pitch:
Yet, after more than two decades of experience, the limits of these [international] courts’ capabilities are becoming clear. While they have brought some senior leaders to justice, the scope of the courts’ budgets and their enquiries can never reach all—or even most—perpetrators of atrocities. They are physically far removed from the scenes of the crimes they are prosecuting, cannot compel evidence or conduct independent investigations, and are vulnerable to changes in funding and international political support.
To overcome these and other difficulties, the international community must place greater emphasis on strengthening the national justice systems of the countries where atrocities have occurred. In this Council Special Report, David Kaye examines existing international justice mechanisms, analyzes how they have succeeded and where they have failed, and explains what reforms national legal systems will require to secure just and peaceful outcomes. Cognizant of the myriad individual challenges facing countries experiencing or emerging from violent conflict, Kaye nevertheless identifies a core set of common needs: political pressure on governments reluctant to prosecute perpetrators; assistance in building legal frameworks and training legal officials; support for investigations, including forensic analysis and security sector reform; and creating belief in the justice system among the local population.
To these ends, Kaye outlines several recommendations for U.S. policymakers and their governmental and nongovernmental partners worldwide. Beginning in the United States, Kaye argues that Washington should expand diplomatic and financial support for national justice systems and appoint a senior official to oversee initiatives from the State Department, Justice Department, USAID, and other agencies. Abroad, he calls for the secretary of state to organize a donor conference to agree on funding priorities and responsibilities for the international community, and to establish a coordinating body to ensure that support for national-level justice systems is properly coordinated and informed by best practices.
You can download the full report here.