n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Peace without justice in the great lakes region of Africa? : editorial

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



In post-conflict and recently liberalised contexts, justice and peace become inextricability linked. Indeed, the very nature of these settings demands that justice respond sensitively to the cries of victims in order to facilitate a lasting peace. In this regard, it has been argued that justice can contribute to peace building after a dictatorship regime, or at the end of armed conflicts. Given this, could international judicial institutions including the International Criminal Court (ICC) contribute to the peace building efforts by providing justice for victims? This kind of inquiry is particularly relevant to conflict ridden contexts such as the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Since 1990, the Great Lakes Region has experienced a series of armed conflicts, the most notable of which occurred in Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Conflict resolution in each of these cases was facilitated through negotiations between the principle factions, which resulted in a period of political transition in each of the concerned countries and the denouncement or condemnation of the impunity of crimes committed during conflict. However, given the ongoing gross human rights violations in the DRC and increasingly convincing arguments that justice may strengthen current efforts, the question remains whether the struggle against impunity by justice would improve the peace process in the DRC? Responses to this inquiry are chiefly found in two areas: First, can the international community, inclusive of the United Nations (UN), facilitate peace in the Great Lakes Region without strengthening justice? And second, is there any link between justice and peace in the DRC? These concerns form the centre of this discussion with a multi-layered analysis of the problematic of peace and justice in the DRC, approached from contextual, conceptual and judicial standpoints. Contextually, the issue of the popular will of justice in the DRC is explored and the national and international dynamics surrounding the military, economy and politics in the DRC are analysed. The conceptual frame is drawn from geopolitical mechanisms; within this framework international politics are contrasted with international public law or penal law, as it pertains to the Great Lakes Region. The judicial approach of this piece is informed by the challenges that the judicial institutions, including the International Criminal Court are facing in dealing with justice in the DRC.

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