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Deciding the Fate of Complementarity: A Colombian Case Study
Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law (2009)
  • Jennifer Easterday, University of California - Berkeley

For over 40 years, one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world has ravaged Colombia, victimizing and displacing nearly a tenth of the population. In an effort to end the conflict, the Colombian government claims it is turning to transitional justice and with the Justice and Peace Law, creating accountability and providing reparations for victims. Yet, upon careful examination of the politics of justice in Colombia, it appears as though the passage of the Justice and Peace Law may be merely an attempt to shield human rights abusers from criminal liability and evade ICC intervention. How the ICC interprets and evaluates the actions of Colombia will determine the application of complementarity and the future of international criminal law. In this paper, I focus on the need for an interpretation of complementarity as found in Article 17 of the Rome Statute, and propose a method of interpreting Article 17 that will reduce states’ exploitation of ambiguities in the Rome Statute. I argue that ICC involvement in Colombia will solidify the tenuous principle of complementarity, and will provide a much needed “guiding principle” to this emerging intersection between domestic and international law. By using Colombia as an example of a state genuinely unwilling to prosecute, the ICC will not only provide justice to Colombians, but it will also reduce the likelihood of mimicry from other states that may follow in the footsteps of Colombia’s impunity if it is allowed to succeed.

  • international crimnal law,
  • international tribunals,
  • ICC
Publication Date
Spring 2009
Citation Information
Jennifer Easterday. "Deciding the Fate of Complementarity: A Colombian Case Study" Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law Vol. 26 Iss. 1 (2009)
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