Even as the International Criminal Court undertakes investigations in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, policymakers and academics continue to debate what the “right” tools to respond to past atrocities are. Naturally there are concerns that justice must be done, weighed against concerns that weak States will be destabilized by attempts at accountability. While many have celebrated the entry into force of the International Criminal Court Statute and the exercise of universal jurisdiction, the United States continues to challenge both of these tools of international justice as undemocratic and illegitimate. There are also reasons to be concerned that tools of international*473 justice, operating as they do very far from the victims and sites of the original crimes, may simply fail to accomplish what we hope for. The ad hoc criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are both being encouraged to complete work by 2008 --they have prosecuted relatively few cases over the course of more than a decade, but have contributed significantly to the corpus of international law. International justice may be developing, but it has its limits. Yet, it is also the case that after civil war or internal atrocity, domestic courts are often unable or unwilling to seriously pursue cases. This leaves a potential gap, one that some believe can be filled by a device between the national and the international--hybrid or mixed--tribunal. While these tribunals are said by some to be an example of “right-sizing” international justice, the case of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“SCSL”, “the Court,” or “Special Court”) suggests that, perhaps, we ought not be so sanguine. While perhaps a necessary compromise, the Court suffers from the limits of being a partially domestic court, in terms of resources and mandate, but also from the limits of being a partially international court, in that it is viewed by many as foreign. Understanding the workings of different justice mechanisms is, importantly, more than a concern for lawyers these days: It is centrally bound up with any discussion of effective conflict resolution, war termination, and longer term peace implementation.
Chandra Lekha Sriram,
Wrong-Sizing International Justice? The Hybrid Tribunal in Sierra Leone,
29 Fordham Int'l L.J. 472
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol29/iss3/3