Is justice counter productive?
October 19, 2012
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One recent news article pertaining to the ICC caught my attention in particular. It highlights the role the UN Security Council plays in assisting the ICC in its tasks.
Although the article mainly discusses the joint effort of the UN and the ICC in ensuring that war crimes/crimes against humanity don’t go unpunished–providing the example that the UN Security Council referred two cases to the ICC regarding alleged crimes in Libya and Sudan’s Darfur region–its main point is not what struck me most.
Instead, the following statement most piqued my interest: “While the ICC’s contribution is through justice, not peacemaking, its mandate is highly relevant to peace as well…”
This quote by ICC President Sang-Hyun Song made me wonder, are justice and peace totally separate entities? How should we define these two terms? And with regards to whom? Does defining them with regards to different groups of people change their definitions?
An at-a-glance assessment of human rights, justice, and peace may lead one to assume that the benefit of attaining justice would be the onset of peace–that bringing about justice for those incriminated in a given case would not only bring about peace to the affected individuals, but also to the larger topic area of concern. If we sit down to actually deliberate the meaning of these two words, though, and assuming that it is true that the ICC manages the justice/injustice of an issue and are not harbingers of peace, we can extend the conversation into how justice for one party may not be justice for another. Meaning, that because justice for one is injustice for another, it is likely that a spiral of turbulence/violence may ensue even after the ICC has done its job of punishing those at fault (in its point of view). Even if a human right is “inalienable” or “universal” in nature, somewhere, somehow, it is being violated because a group of people is advocating for the opposite of this particular right.
This leads me to believe that finding more global definitions for these words–justice and peace–are crucial to the realm of human rights. Assessing to whom they pertain in a given situation, and accurately assigning their responsibility to entities like the ICC, could help to ensure that we are after both justice and peace at all times. Simply seeking justice could be counterproductive. Who even are our current peacemakers?