The End of Impunity? Crimes Against Humanity and International Justice in the 21st Century

2004-2005
Faculty Mentor(s): 
David Cohen (Rhetoric and Director, War Crimes Studies Center) and Eric Stover (School of Public Health and Director, Human Rights Center)
Student Apprentice(s): 
Sun Lee

Through a series of journal articles and a major book, The End of Impunity? provides the most in-depth evaluation to date of the international community’s efforts through judicial means to end impunity for massive state-sponsored crimes. The book addresses a broad range of issues of concern to humanists, scholars in a variety of other disciplines, and the general public. Using data gleaned from extensive interviews and the examination population-based surveys and ethnographic studies, the authors attempt to answer the following questions: What is the nature of the justice dispensed by international tribunals that are often geographically remote from the countries of the victims and limited to a very small number of perpetrators? Can “symbolic” justice alone justify the allocation of very significant resources to these international courts? What role, if any, does justice play in the formation of collective memory? The book argues that while criminal trials are a critical component of social reconstruction in many post-war societies, they are only one part of a more comprehensive set of approaches involving education, economic development, governance, and respect for basic human, civil, and cultural rights.

The student, Sun Lee, researched the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda to assess the first trials conducted before Gacaca courts. The position required one month of research in Rwanda.