Amnesty, Revenge, and the Threat of Conflict Relapse

In: 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.

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