A Slipping Memory: Can the International Criminal Tribunal be a Bulwark Against Oblivion?(Invited voice)
Is the international community able to learn lessons from past catastrophes? Do international tribunals that arose from the atrocities of the past help to prevent such atrocities in the future? Florence Hartmann shares insights gained as a war correspondent in the early 1990s and as a spokesperson and advisor of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the early 2000s. On the background of a more general reflection on the tensions and contradictions between international law and international politics, she discusses the main achievements and failures of the ICTY. She argues that the contribution of the tribunal to the construction of collective war memories largely stems from its success in establishing that mass violence in the former Yugoslavia was state sponsored, “rather than spontaneous violence motivated by genuine inter-ethnic hatred„. However, she also considers the reasons why the tribunal failed to “build social confidence and therefore the legitimacy that was required to help local societies accepting the necessity of coping with their bloody past„.
KeywordsFormer Yugoslavia International criminal tribunal International community International justice War
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