International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Atrocity Crimes

In response to Helen Fein.

Genocide, as a word, has not been around for a particularly long period of time. The word has only come into existence after the genocide that we are most familiar with, the Holocaust (alternately, The Shoah). Yet the crime of genocide is as old as civilization. There has always been hatred between groups of different religion, ethnicities, and nationalities. But genocide is only a small part of the spectrum of crimes against humanity, and like how laws change with the time, definitions and must change and include more. The article goes into the broader class of Atrocity Crimes; which, based on the article, is an all-encompassing class of crimes against humanity, but these crimes must fit within a set of guidelines to be atrocities. This classification, I believe, makes these crimes much more likely to be tried in court and have some form of justice be a possibility. With guidelines that have been agreed upon by an international council, the crimes will be more likely to be tried if they fit the requirements. But, there must still be change, and more importantly, steps towards prevention of atrocity crimes.



2 responses to “Atrocity Crimes

  1. ellesnyder September 12, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    In response to Sam and to David Scheffer.

    David Scheffer seeks to abandon the concept of genocide as it is used in international law. It appears illogical that no previous mode through which action can be taken to halt an act of genocide, prior to completion of the act, exists. While the perimeters that define genocide provide a necessary framework for prosecuting those who commit genocide, Scheffer notes that such guidelines have become paralyzing in identifying and acting upon “precursors to genocide”. As Sam mentions, the need for a flexible legal system willing to change with new developments is apparent. While Scheffer does not appear to suggest non-punitive responses to perpetrators of “precursors to genocide”, the concept of addressing a foreseen deviance from the international norms and laws vaguely resembles a Restorative Justice model. The Restorative Justice model, traditionally administered on a grass roots or individual level might prove effective in rerouting the path of states heading towards the preverbal cliff that is genocide. Redefining the terminology around genocide to incorporate language conducive to breaking down the act into atrocity crimes and delegating atrocity law as the preferred discipline may head-off future cases of full blown genocide.

  2. Mckenna WestCoates September 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    The guidelines for Atrocity seem to limit what can be prosecuted by the international court. Though I understand they are made in order to help with those they can actually convict. Would it be more helpful to possibly limit the amount of actions by the International criminal court and begin to have more truth and dignity commissions. The International criminal court may have had a more difficult times being successful with their convictions. All the while still bring the victims through a long and traumatic experience. It may also be the quickest way to have the victims be recognized for what actually happened to them. With a trial it is also never guaranteed that the defendants will admit to the crimes they have committed, which never gives the victims true closure.

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