Atrocity crimes—including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity—continue to rage around the world, from Syria and South Sudan to Iraq and Myanmar. This course examines origins, operations, and outcomes of historical and contemporary international justice measures to address such heinous offenses. We will consider the full range of judicial, legislative, and executive “transitional justice” mechanisms available to policymakers as societies emerge from periods of violence and repression. These mechanisms include war crimes tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court), truth commissions, amnesties, lustration, exile, indefinite detention, lethal force, and inaction. The course draws on various case studies, including present-day Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar; Rwanda and the Balkans in the 1990s; and World War II. Readings address the legal, political, and philosophical underpinnings of justice; questions of institutional design; and how different societies have balanced competing legal, policy, and moral imperatives.
International Justice and Atrocities2021
University of Houston Law Center