Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus : The International Criminal Tribunals and the Application of the Concept of Genocide

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Hugo Valentin-centrum

Abstract: The concept of genocide is probably the most debated subject in Holocaust and genocide studies. The political implications to its usage, or resistance to do so, have also been lengthily discussed. Yet, when it came to the legal sphere of the concept it has been mostly descriptive, without much theorizing on the politicization of the convictions of genocide. This study investigates the relation between the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda application of the crime of genocide and how these judgements were informed. Through the court’s transcripts of a number of selected cases, the research will analyze the application qualitatively, identifying the key factors that determined its usage. The analyses rest on the legal and political aspects that influenced the chambers, evaluating which one explains best. The results indicate that there is no single explanation and that both legal and political reasonings merge in the international legal arena. The courts’ decisions have many inconsistencies that cannot be accounted by a solo description. Thus, matters of law interpretation, conflict’s ending, postcolonialism, and legitimacy all take a tool when convicting or acquitting someone for the crime of genocide.

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