After Genocide: Bringing the Devil to Justice

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Prometheus Books, Jan 1, 2009 - Law - 441 pages
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Imagine a criminal justice system that achieves fewer than five convictions per year and spends more than $20 million on each. By some measures, this would make it the least efficient prosecutorial system in recorded history, with the risk of creating rather than deterring more crimes, and one that few victims or perpetrators believe provides fairness. This is the state of international criminal justice today.
How did one of the bravest and most optimistic expressions of post-Cold War global power–the provision of justice to those victimized by atrocious crimes–degenerate into a system in which so few are convinced justice is being done, a system that may well exacerbate the very problems it was designed to fix? Adam M. Smith, an international lawyer who has worked at The Hague and in the Balkans and is the son of a Holocaust refugee, comprehensively examines the complex, politicized world of international criminal justice, reviewing the serious shortcomings of the international justice system in several hot spots, including:

• The former Yugoslavia, where a one-billion-dollar investment has spectacularly backfired.
• Sierra Leone, where the same wartime factions that the international community tried to dismantle remain, and in some quarters are stronger than ever.
• Rwanda, where the post-conflict tribunal was met with dismay by all sectors of society, has played second fiddle to the Yugoslav tribunal, operates on a shoestring budget, and receives begrudging cooperation from the Rwandan government.
• Sudan and Uganda, where the nascent International Criminal Court has inexplicably replicated many of the same problems that plague the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda.

Are other options available to provide the good of justice without the potentially devastating side effects? Smith illustrates the viability of a counterintuitive "solution" to dealing with genocide and other mass crimes: to entrust the challenging, potentially destabilizing work of war crimes justice to the very states affected by the crimes. After Genocide is indispensable reading for voters, policymakers, and citizens as well as lawyers, academics, and human rights activists who hope that "never again" can be more than a platitude.

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About the author (2009)

Adam M. Smith (Bethesda, MD) is an associate at a Washington, DC-based international law firm who has advised presidential candidates, held staff positions with the United Nations and the World Bank, and worked at US embassies in three countries, for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and for the legal adviser to the State Department. He has published in magazines such as Forbes, American Prospect, and New Republic, and such prestigious journals as Harvard International Law Journal, Fletcher Forum, and Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. He has been interviewed by NPR, Reuters, AP, CNN, and others and has a coauthored academic text forthcoming by Routledge.

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