Roy S. Lee


The large number of signature States together with the current speed of ratification from various regions of the world seems to indicate the general acceptance of the treaty; many of the problems first identified have since been clarified and resolved. It seems reasonable to expect the Rome Statute to come into operation as early as next summer. While it is necessary to ensure effective criminal investigation and prosecution to counter serious human rights violations, we need also to develop additional ways and means for addressing the root causes that led to violations and impunity. Justice is important but justice alone cannot bring peace. We need both justice and peace.

Criminal prosecution through courts and tribunals will not and cannot suit all situations, bring justice to all, or, still less, end all conflicts. Accountability and criminal responsibility are important and necessary. But the tribunals cannot deal adequately when massive cases are involved. Massive trials require large resources and are time-consuming, particularly when there are large numbers of defendants. In recent years, various measures of accountability have been employed for managing situations involving past serious violations of human rights. These measures include acknowledging and publicizing responsibility through truth commissions, dismissing or suspending officials connected with the abuses of the previous regimes, seizure of property and assets of the perpetrators, blocking financial sources of rogue organizations, and compensation for victims and their families. All these are intended to demonstrate that a sense of sanctions has been applied to misdeeds, though such sanctions may not be sufficient in all cases. The parties concerned must work out by themselves the best solution to suit their need.