Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prosecute or compromise?

In Zimbabwe, a power-sharing deal is being opposed by generals who fear prosecution for human rights violations. If the deal doesn't go through, instability, hunger and displacement are likely to worsen.

In Sudan, the ICC indictment of President al-Bashir for genocide is potentially threatening the future of the AU/UN peacekeeping mission. Understandably, al-Bashir doesn't want to give UN troops access to his country if they're going to arrest him and send him to the Hague.

These are just two examples of an ongoing debate between human rights and conflict resolution. Is the rule of law so important that it should be upheld (especially in the worst cases) in order to deter future violations? Or do peace deals need to include some compromises (including amnesty from prosecution) in order to set a more secure foundation on which a rule of law can be built?

Tough questions. I admit, I'm on the fence. But I haven't been feeling to sanguine lately about the promise of deterrence and the rule of law. Maybe that's because I've been reading the recent stories about the Bush Administration's authorization of torture. Fear of prosecution didn't really stop them from doing it, it just made them keep it a bit more secret.

1 comment:

Acrobat said...

compromise. Rule of law is a negotiated line anyways. In my uninformed opinion, to the extent possible let the victims decide re compromise/punishment/mercy.