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date: 28 January 2021

International Organizations and Criminal Justicelocked

  • Adam M. Smith

Summary

One of the primary goals of the United Nations (UN) is to provide justice. The vast majority of mentions of “justice” in the UN Charter relate to the creation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), one of the UN’s five principal organs. However, this body is not empowered to take cases on behalf of aggrieved individuals or even to prosecute individual malefactors. Rather, it is “justice” for states that is its goal. Meanwhile, the treaties signed at the 1948 Peace of Westphalia radically delimited the arena of international affairs. Most importantly, Westphalia held as paramount the noninterference by other states in the internal affairs of other members of the international community. Rejecting the logic of Westphalia, the notions of “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” refer to the legal right and/or obligation for a state to interfere in another state for purposes of humanitarian protection. Consequently, the UN established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in order to address the carnage ongoing in the Balkans, as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which targeted that country’s 1994 Hutu–Tutsi violence. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC), a non-UN institution, is the first permanent international tribunal devoted to justice in the wake of mass crimes. Each of these post-Cold War international tribunals have been concerned with the enforcement of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Ultimately, however, the international community continues to hold fast to central elements of Westphalian protections.

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