International and national criminal tribunals dealing with mass atrocities have highlighted the need to research the impact of legal procedures on historical interpretations of armed conflicts, war violence, its causes, and consequences.
In the unfolding scholarly debate about the impact of international criminal courts, there is growing understanding that criminal proceedings dealing with mass atrocities and political violence always have a number of ‘extra-legal’ impacts, which yet have to be articulated fully.
The Master Class’s held at the IUC Dubrovnik had for its objective to advance a multidisciplinary approach to International Criminal Justice through exploration of legal, historical, political and sociological methodologies by a balanced mixture of students of different disciplines. The faculty of lecturers included academics with backgrounds in law, history, political science and sociology, together with politicians, international lawyers and human rights activists. The Master Class was held in the Croatian university town of Dubrovnik, a site accessible to participants from the region where there have been recent conflicts. The regional ‘constituency’ of students was expanded by involvement of participants from Western Europe and the USA. Given that the majority of universities in the region do not have a curriculum dealing with international criminal courts in the context of Transitional Justice, this Master Class was designed to fill a gap in curricula for students from the region. Students from outside the region were enabled to enrich their academic curricula by the interdisciplinary approach and by interaction with colleagues from the region where the mass atrocities had occurred.
Law: The legal processes used at international criminal courts were initially based on the Common Law’s adversarial system, but, over the years, have incorporated a number of elements from the Civil Law’s inquisitorial system – becoming a hybrid of the two. Establishing guilt or innocence as expressed in judgments is the primary task of all legal processes. To understand what is a legal justice one has to understand the applicable normative system, rules of procedure and legal theories as well as the evidence given at the particular trial. These subjects would normally only be of professional interest to lawyers, judges, scholars and students of law. However when dealing with mass atrocities and political violence there is a growing awareness of a need for a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to research and to the teaching of institutionalised legal responses to mass atrocities.
History: Mass atrocities trials produce extensive trial records that eventually become historical sources. At every war crimes trial, history will inevitably be discussed because, first, all sides – prosecution and all accused – will use the historical background to explain the conflict and its violent nature from their points of view. Second, all sides might call expert witnesses on history to inform or educate the judges about the conflict. Third, every trial record will become a historical source and might contribute to new or extended historical interpretations of the given historical period. Yet, the lawyers and judges may draw very different conclusions from those drawn by historians, despite working from the same trial records.
Politics: New post-conflict political elites will try to interpret the ‘Legal Narrative’ as told in the courtroom and Legal Justice as articulated in court judgments to their own ends. There are different ways for political elites to (ab)use mass atrocities trials in achieving objectives other than justice. They might use trials to influence the processes of shaping collective memory about the conflict or by stressing the wrongdoings and criminality of the ‘other side’ in the conflict while downplaying the role of their own side. They might try to use the existence of war crimes courts to get rid of political rivals by influencing the indictment strategy of the courts – for example, by selectivity in what incriminatory evidence they provide to an international prosecutor from state archives. They may use the mass atrocities trials for immediate political objectives, such as accession to the EU.
Society: What is the impact of mass atrocities trials on post-conflict societies? What is the reaction of the victims, of the Media and of NGOs? How easy or difficult is it for non-specialists to understand legal proceedings and to appreciate the impact of ‘Retributive Justice’, which is perpetrator oriented? What about ‘Restorative Justice’, which is victim oriented? How does one achieve reconciliation in post-conflict societies where the perpetrators and victims remain living close to, or even intermingled with, each other? Should reconciliation be a goal of Retributive Justice at all?
Target Group: MA and PhD students of Law, History, Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Journalism, European Studies and related subjects.
Day One, Monday 30 June
Day Two, Tuesday 01 July
Day Three, Wednesday 02 July
Day Four, Thursday 03 July
Day Five, Friday 04 July
Day Six, Saturday 05 July
Day Seven, Sunday 06 July
Day Eight, Monday 07 July
Day Nine, Tuesday 08 July
Day Ten, Wednesday 09 July
Day Eleven, Thursday 10 July
Day Twelve, Friday 11 July