Are We Ending Impunity?

by olgasoutstanding

The news this week is that Radavan Karadzic will in fact face genocide charges.  As the International Criminal Court has become more established, more charges have been filed and several génocidaires (there is really no English equivalent – “perpetrators of genocide,” perhaps?) have been arrested and charged.  But it’s easy to feel that these are very small measures.

Charles Taylor has been known to complain that the food in the Hague is not culturally sensitive.  Slobodan Milosevic had resources unimaginable to most prisoners around the world while imprisoned there.  It would be easy to say that this is not justice.  Certainly it’s not equivalent to what the everyday people in their countries have had to go through at their hands.  However, this is the very beginning of a process that it has taken humanity a long time to even conceive of.

The idea is this: You cannot commit genocide in your sovereign territory and then live out your life in peace, a hero to some and a villain to others.  The international community (such as it is) is watching you.  It may take 20 years to imprison génocidaires.  It will certainly take some time to try them.  Yet little by little, humanity is tiptoeing toward the realization that state sovereignty is not a good enough reason not to arrest a leader.  It’s not an excuse for doing whatever you’d like to your citizens.

We need to do more.  A lot more.  But for today, I’m going to rejoice that we’re doing something.  Little by little, step by step, we can bring about a world where it is just that much more difficult to commit atrocities.  That, friends, is a very good thing.