Is Grassroots Justice a Viable Alternative to Impunity? The Case of the Iran People’s Tribunal
What happens when the institutions responsible for doing justice fail the victims of mass atrocities? While global justice is now a popular demand, it remains a fledgling venture, at the margins of power realities. It is especially challenged in situations where the politically neglected and weak International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction to intervene. In contexts of impunity, the proponents of justice are forced either to abandon hope or to explore creative, informal alternatives that are not dependent on the narrow political whims and fortunes of decision-makers. A notable instance of such accountability entrepreneurship is the grassroots initiative that became known as the Iran People’s Tribunal (Iran Tribunal). The tribunal was a grassroots initiative inspired by the demands for justice by the ‘Mothers of Khavaran’, an organisation formed by women who had lost their children in the mass executions following the first decade of the 1979 ‘Islamic’ revolution in Iran. This chapter, written by the prosecutor of the tribunal, explores this unprecedented victim-driven initiative and its implications for global accountability, conceptions of power and the discourse of healing and reconciliation in the wake of mass atrocities.