n South African Law Journal - Complementarity in the Line of Fire: The Catalysing Effects of the International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan, Sarah Nouwen : book review

Volume 132, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The scholarship and practice of international criminal law is rife with assumptions concerning the effect that the body of law will have on domestic and international affairs. A few such assumptions include the following: the prosecution of war criminals is assumed to deter the future commission of atrocities (see eg Security Council Resolution 827 establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, UN Doc S/RES/827 (25 May 1993); the Preamble to Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998: 'Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes...'); the progressive prohibition of the use of amnesty agreements for international crimes is assumed to buttress lasting peace in post-conflict societies (see eg the prominent non-governmental organisation 'No Peace without Justice', the programme and activities of which are accessible at ); victims are assumed to derive some benefit from international prosecutions (see eg Human Rights Watch (1999) 747: 'Without justice there is no relief - psychological and material - for the victims and there is no hope of reconciliation for the society.'), helping to justify resources spent on international courts instead of reparations to communities affected by conflict. These assumptions are largely unsubstantiated, and, in many cases, impossible to verify empirically. Nonetheless, this does not prevent their frequently being given an important role in the development of the law and policy of international criminal justice.

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