International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

“These demands may range from claims that impunity is a necessary sacrifice to achieve peace, to the belief that without justice no meaningful peace can be reached.” (Mallinder, 2007)

In framing the two ends of the peace vs. justice spectrum, Mallinder (2007) illuminates an interesting aspect of the debate.  Essentially every single article we’ve read on peace vs. justice has framed the debate in this same way, utilizing “impunity” as an antonym to “justice.”  In class we touched on the dilemma that there are different conceptualizations of justice within the field, but the literature quite consistently uses these two as opposites.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public,” wrote Cornel West.  It seems that by seeking punishment, retributive justice only harms rather than helps and is thus an injustice in and of itself.

Advertisements

2 responses to “

  1. nurkara December 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Your statement that “impunity” has often been used as an antonym to “justice” interested me.

    According to Mirriam-Webster online, “impunity” is defined as: “exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss.”

    “Justice” is defined as: a) “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments” b) “the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity” c) “the quality of being just, impartial, or fair” d) “conformity to truth, fact, or reason.”

    Wouldn’t the opposite of “impunity” then, meaning non-exemption from punishment, be maintaining due law, which is indeed the administration of justice? This is provided that the law addresses punishment for a given offense and that the offender is truly at fault.

    Given these definitions, I think it would be beneficial to pose “impunity” as an antonym to “justice,” for example, in order to incite fair action in otherwise inactive situations. However, I do not think that combatting impunity is always the main objective. In light of our recent readings regarding local traditional justice, from an outsider’s Western perspective, it does not appear as if due punishment/harm/loss occurs to those accused, as forgiveness and reconciliation is instead the main objective of traditional justice.

    All in all, I don’t know if “impunity” is the right word to employ when speaking of the opposite of “justice,” or when addressing what needs to be put to an end in order to have justice. But for now it’s all we have.

  2. coschaput December 7, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Incorporating and analyzing the actual written definitions of impunity and justice provides a new angle to Mallinder’s quote, “These demands may range from claims that impunity is a necessary sacrifice to achieve peace, to the belief that without justice no meaningful peace can be reached.” (Mallinder, 2007). I think it is very interesting to note that only one of the definitions for justice includes the word law. Often, law and justice are immediately associated with each other, yet in the definitions provided above there are three definitions without any mention of law. By strictly looking at the definitions being referenced, I think it is possible to have some sot of justice without the law and still have some sort of peace. For example, if justice is defined as “the quality of being just, impartial, or fair” and the community in question decides that prosecuting through the law would not be fair to victims, then it could be argued they is still some sort of peace being achieved. Truth commissions would be another example that fit into definition D. Whether one thinks of justice and the law as one in the same, will have a great impact on how they interpret Mallinder’s quote.

    The two definitions outlined above and below, :
    Impunity being defined as: “exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss,” and
    Justice” being defined as: a) “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments” b) “the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity” c) “the quality of being just, impartial, or fair” d) “conformity to truth, fact, or reason.”

%d bloggers like this: