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POL/HTY 395: Genocide & Laws of War (Rimanelli): World Courts

Dr Rimanelli

Please note that the content and the inspiration for this LibGuide tab are thanks to Dr Marco Rimanelli, Professor of Political Science and International Relations. [PowerPoint Presentation: May 7, 2012, Social Justice Across the Curriculum]

Human Rights

A government's abuse of its own citizens can cause ethnic conflicts, undermine norms and threaten the security of the international community.

In 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It does not have the strength of international law but creates the basis for treaties and new humanitarian law. 

International Military Tribunals

Nuremberg, Germany, 1945-1949

Tokyo, Japan, 1946-1948

United Nations World Court

 The International Court of Justice -- also known as the World Court -- is the judicial arm of the United Nations. From its seat at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Court hears cases brought before it by UN member states.

15 judges on nine-year terms

Selected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council by majority vote

If the country whose case is discussed does not have a judge, one is added

Judgments are made in absentia

Scholarly legal basis for international law

War Crimes Tribunals

“Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.” [International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg]

Focus of International Crimes Tribunals:

To see that justice prevails;

•To remove feelings of collective guilt ;

•To serve as a preventive effect on future atrocities;
•To promote peace through the process of reconciliation and societal healing.

Ethnic Cleansing vs. Genocide

ethnic cleansing, the attempt to create ethnically homogeneous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups. Ethnic cleansing sometimes involves the removal of all physical vestiges of the targeted group through the destruction of monuments, cemeteries, and houses of worship. The targeting of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are not simply by-products of war, but the consequence of the deliberate targeting of non-combatants….

genocide, the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race.

Britannica Online Academic Edition

In the Words of a Rwandan Killer

“You will never see the source of a genocide. It is buried too deep in grudges, under an accumulation of misunderstandings that we were the last to inherit. We came of age in the worst moment of Rwanda’s history: we were taught to obey absolutely, raised in hatred, stuffed with slogans. We are an unfortunate generation.”

Joseph-Desire, killer

Rwandan Stories