International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

In the Middle East – a Challenge to International Tribunals

Mideast Strife Turns Trial on Beirut Assassination Into Another Fault Line

After the suspected assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri nine years ago, an international investigation supported by the UN attempted to find the perpetrators and bring accountability to the region. Though it does not concern a human rights violation by a state official, this situation serves as an example of the ways in which international law can be unsuccessful in achieving justice.

First of all, the investigation has been incredibly costly and drawn out. Each of the four suspects has evaded arrest, and is being tried in absentia; should they be arrested later, they will receive another trial. Most significantly, this trial is taking place as a conflict is ongoing. As a civil war rages in neighboring Syria that involves the same groups under investigation, the tribunal’s ability to enforce any law is under question. As tensions between factions in Lebanon grow, each side has used the tribunal to highlight the perceived wrongs it has suffered, decreasing again the tribunal’s credibility. This shows that in the midst of ongoing conflict, international tribunals and prosecutions have a low chance of success.

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