Harmen van der Wilt

'No Peace Without Justice or No Justice Without Peace?' Some Reflections on a Complex Relationship

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Keywords: International Criminal Justice; Peace; Prosecutorial Discretion; Selectivity; International Criminal Court; Normative Expression.

This essay addresses the convoluted relationship between international criminal justice and peace by drawing parallels with the dialectics between these concepts within a domestic legal order. While it is acknowledged that national criminal law enforcement is functional in keeping and restoring the 'King's peace', in the context of international criminal justice this objective is far more difficult to accomplish. Because of financial and political constraints, international criminal justice is inevitably (highly) selective. It cannot meet the expectation that those alleged to have committed very serious crimes are brought to justice and this expectation is arguably a prerequisite for peace facilitation. The essay ends with the sobering conclusion that, in the international context, there is probably no apparent causal relationship between justice and peace at all. But that does not imply that the quest for international criminal justice should be abandoned altogether, because it serves valuable purposes in the realm of norm expression.

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