International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The Role of Victims in the ICC.

I recently came across an extremely interesting blog post by Mark Kersten on the Justice in Conflict blog. The post talks about the future of victim participation in the ICC.

Victim participation is an important and pressing conflict that is bound to be discussed at the next assembly of state parties. Mark Kersten, however, explicates how the proposed changes in victim participation in the Kenya 1 and Kenya 2 decisions could serve as a lynchpin for future reform. The new schemes of victim participation in Kenya 1 and Kenya 2 create a two-tiered system of victim participation. First, victims who want to directly participate in the court proceedings can submit a proposal to chambers which proves their status as victims, similar to the current process. Second, victims can communicate and inform a common legal representative of his situation, and they do not have to submit anything to chambers.

As Kersten writes, this new proposal, if the CLR’s are well trained, and well funded, has the potential to save time, and money, and “is apparently designed to enable participation that is both deep and broad.”

In the end, Kersten tentatively endorses the new proposals, as he believes they best represent a view of victim participation in the ICC which is oriented around a balanced, efficient transitional justice. As he writes: “Rather than emphasize the impact of victims on legal proceedings, a victim-centered approach shifts attention from the courtroom to the lives of victims. It asks whether participation contributes material or normative resources to help victims pursue justice, and it is attentive to ways that victim participation could cause disappointment or even conflict between those allowed to participate and those who are not.”

So, in conclusion, I agree with Kersten that the new proposal has the potential to solve pitfalls in current victim participation, namely how to best allocate resources to contribute  with victim healing without damaging the criminal proceedings, and the efficiency of those proceedings. The ICC must continue to develop a “justice balance” approach to transitional justice that emphasizes accountability, reconciliation, and victim participation. What do you guys think? Do the new proposals sound like a solid foundation for future reform? Does victim participation need reform? Or should victim participation be limited, and should the money instead be spent on reparations?

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