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What's Law Gto to Do with It? The Bosnia v. Serbia Decision's Impact on Reconciliation
Rutgers Law Review (2008)
  • Sheri P. Rosenberg
During the twentieth century a particular ideology inspired specific efforts to utilize the power of the law to redress episodes of mass atrocity—in particular genocide. The idea has been that accountability and reparations are necessary for moving beyond a past marred with crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. Trials are often claimed to aid this process on the grounds that they create an irrefutable historic record, punish the perpetrators for the sake of justice and deterrence, and promote peace and reconciliation. This Article interrogates the stated goals of accountability, in particular the goal of reconciliation, for such crimes against the impact, within Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) of the February 26, 2007 Bosnia v. Serbia decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This Article illustrates the shortcomings of international justice when measured against the proponents’ claims and highlights that exaggerated claims made by proponents of international justice are not mere hyperbole; they have actual and dangerous consequences within and without of the BiH context. They are dangerous to the legitimacy of international courts; dangerous for the victims who are meant to be served by international justice; dangerous because by exaggerating what international justice does, we conceal the fact that actual prevention is not done; and dangerous because a great deal of financial and human resources are spent on international tribunals—resources that arguably are better utilized elsewhere. The article argues that a realistic appreciation of what international justice can achieve will assist international policymaker redress mass atrocities. A balance, however, can only properly be struck between different mechanisms utilized to achieve reconciliation and human rights protections if we start critically to challenge some of the basic assumptions upon which international justice stands.
  • Transitional Justice,
  • Human Rights,
  • International Criminal Law,
  • Reconciliation
Publication Date
Fall 2008
Citation Information
Sheri P. Rosenberg. "What's Law Gto to Do with It? The Bosnia v. Serbia Decision's Impact on Reconciliation" Rutgers Law Review Vol. 61 Iss. 1 (2008)
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