Amnesty, Revenge, and the Threat of Conflict Relapse

International Criminal Law Review

Recent decades have witnessed an increase in internal armed conflicts, resulting in significant consequences for affected civilian populations. At the same time, there has been rapid growth in international criminal law and a trend towards accountability. Yet, attempts to mitigate violence may come at the cost of accountability, leading to the commonly referenced to peace-versus-justice dispute. Blanket amnesties are one tool for conflict mitigation, bargaining chips that allow actors to come to the negotiating table. This article examines issues related to blanket amnesties that are absent from the amnesty versus accountability debate. The basis of the analysis is not whether accountability reduces a victim’s desire for revenge. Instead, the analysis examines whether amnesty increases a victim’s desire for revenge, and when combined with other socio-political factors that contribute to conflict relapse, finds that this increased desire may escalate the potential for renewed violence in post-conflict regions.

  • 7

    For example‘when [a] government is obliged to use military force against the insurgents, instead of mere police forces.’ Ibid; however the US considers its war against Al-Queda to be a NIAC. See International Committee of the Red Cross How is the Term ‘Armed Conflict’ Defined in International Law? Opinion Paper (March 2008) <www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/opinion-paper-armed-conflict.pdf> (accessed 27 Dec 2013).

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  • 11

    Kellersupra note 8.

  • 14

    Kellersupra note 8.

  • 22

    Broomhallsupra note 4 p. 93; Juan Mendez ‘National Reconciliation Transitional Justice and the International Criminal Court’ 15 Ethics and International Affairs (May 2001) 27.

  • 29

    Smithsupra note 27.

  • 38

    Naqvisupra note 36.

  • 50

    OECDsupra note 47.

  • 53

    Orthsupra note 46 p. 62.

  • 58

    Colliersupra note 31 p. 17.

  • 63

    Doreen Carvajal‘Hunting for Liberia’s Missing Millions’The New York Times30 May 2011.

  • 66

    Colliersupra note 31 p. 55.

  • 67

    Sensupra note 65 p. 144.

  • 70

    Orthsupra note 46 pp. 62–63.

  • 77

    Motives for Genocidesupra note 43.

  • 78

    Volkansupra note 76.

  • 84

    Colliersupra note 31 p. 69.

  • 90

    Telegraphsupra note 87.

  • 93

    Quiadessupra note 88 p. 4.

  • 96

    On 2 February 2012Syrian opposition groups organised massive demonstrations to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Hama massacre; AlJazeera Syrian Activist Commemorate Hama Atrocities (last modified 2 Feb. 2012) available at <www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/02/2012221439757981.html> (accessed 30 December 2013).

  • 97

    Vidmasupra note 39 p. 307.

  • 99

    O’Connellsupra note 52 pp. 303–304.

  • 100

    Vidmasupra note 39 p. 36.

  • 101

    O’Connellsupra note 52 p. 310.

  • 103

    O’Connellsupra note 52 p. 319.

  • 110

    Chirotsupra note 43.

  • 111

    Center on Law and Globalizationsupra note 43.

  • 112

    Volkansupra note 76.

  • 120

    Vulkansupra note 110 p. 125.

  • 121

    Sternbergsupra note 86 p. 42.

  • 130

    O’Connellsupra note 52 pp. 295 298–299.

  • 131

    Mendeloffsupra note 34 p. 615.

  • 132

    Lambournesupra note 13.

  • 134

    Mendeloffsupra note 34.

  • 135

    O’Connellsupra note 52 p. 327.

  • 137

    O’Connellsupra note 52 p. 318.

  • 138

    Lambournesupra note 13 p. 7.

  • 139

    IDEAsupra note 35 p. 12.

  • 143

    IDEAsupra note 35 pp. 21–22.

  • 145

    Mendezsupra note 23 p. 26.

  • 148

    IDEAsupra note 35 p. 38.

  • 151

    Genocide Watchsupra note 146.

  • 152

    Mendezsupra note 23.

  • 153

    IDEAsupra note 35 at 26.

  • 154

    Kelmansupra note 137.

  • 155

    IDEAsupra note 35 p. 26.

  • 157

    Mendezsupra note 23 at 32; see Chirot supra note 43 p. 2.

  • 158

    Mendezsupra note 23 at 32.

  • 159

    Smithsupra note 27 p. 216. (Smith notes the ICTY started proceedings before the Balkan conflicts finished).

  • 163

    Kourabassupra note 25 p. 60. For example during the preparatory commission for the establishment of the ICC Sudan opposed ‘the inclusion of crimes dealt with under the four Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols I and II’ as War Crimes as that ‘might undermine measures adopted by States to establish peace in non-international conflicts and hamper efforts towards amnesty and national or domestic reconciliation.’ over war crimes because it would ‘undermine measures adopted by States to establish peace in non-international conflicts and hamper efforts towards amnesty and national or domestic reconciliation.’ UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court Rome 15 June -17 July 1998. (A/CONF.183/13 (Vol. II)) pg. 168. para. 101; The US argued that a grant of amnesty is a decision made by a diplomatic government and the prosecutor should take such amnesty into consideration. Kate Allan ‘Prosecution and Peace: A Role for Amnesty before the ICC?’ 39 Denv J. Int’L Poly (2010–2011) 248.

  • 164

    Kourabassupra note 25.

  • 165

    Rome Statutesupra note 2 at 53(c).

  • 166

    Kourabassupra note 25 at 61.

  • 169

    Kourabassupra note 25 p. 61.

  • 171

    Cryersupra note 168.

  • 176

    Mendeloffsupra note 34 p. 596.

  • 179

    Rigbysupra note 175.

  • 180

    Manisupra note 1 p. 25.

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