Political reconciliation and international criminal trials

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


My focus in this chapter is on the role of the international community, and of international criminal trials specifically, in the promotion of political reconciliation within transitional societies. The concept of reconciliation refers to the process of repairing damaged relationships. Political reconciliation focuses on the characteristically impersonal relations among members of a political society. Transitional societies are those aspiring to democratize or, more minimally, establish peace after a recent period of repressive rule or civil conflict, characterized by systematic human rights abuses. Examples of recent transitional societies include Iraq, Afghanistan, and Rwanda. An inquiry into the role of international criminal trials in promoting political reconciliation may seem unpromising. The operations of some hybrid and international criminal tribunals are hampered by insufficient financial resources, lack of international personnel familiar with local cultures and languages, hostility to international personnel in certain transitional contexts, and rejection of the legitimacy of such tribunals. Such limitations call into question the ability of international trials to prosecute and successfully convict perpetrators and counter impunity. They also seemingly strengthen skepticism about the ability of such trials to promote reconciliation. One objective of this chapter is to temper such skepticism. My thesis is that international criminal trials can contribute to political reconciliation by fostering the social conditions required for law's efficacy. This chapter builds on previous work in which I argue that the cultivation of mutual respect for the rule of law is a constitutive part of the process of political reconciliation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Criminal Law and Philosophy
EditorsLarry May, Zachary Hoskins
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780511642265
ISBN (Print)9780521191517
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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