This thesis inquires into the different conceptions of justice that are prevalent within international criminal justice. How is justice spoken of and what means are available for its pursuance in the aftermath of mass atrocity and international crimes?
In 2004, the International Criminal Court decided to open an investigation in Uganda concerning the brutal and drawn-out war between the government army and a rebel group knows as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the northern parts of the country. When the Court unsealed its arrest warrants for the five top commanders of the LRA, the local reactions were disparate, some claiming that the ICC inflicts a top-down justice that is not compliable with local notions of justice. As peace talks in Juba, South Sudan, started producing encouraging results towards a cessation of hostilities, attitudes concerning the ICC’s intervention grew increasingly antagonistic as the arrest warrants became an impediment to further peace negotiations. The situation in Northern Uganda has thus come to epitomise the debate on peace vs. justice, non-prosecutorial vs. prosecutorial, restorative vs. retributive justice, and which therefore lay the background for the discussions on justice in this thesis.
The thesis is concerned with discourse on multiple levels, as social and discursive practices. Representations of the discourse are identified along with carriers of the dominant representation: prosecutorial justice. These representatives make up four actors in the data material: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court. Sampled documents from the actors on the situation in Uganda are analysed using a textural-oriented approach to discourse analysis, elucidating strategies in maintaining discursive dominance as well as attitudes to alternative perceptions of ‘justice’.
Furthermore, the role of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) upon the field of international criminal justice is elaborated. As intermediaries between the local and the global, the victims of the conflict and the corridors of The Hague, human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have become important constituents of the field. This role is placed under scrutiny and seen in light of the changing premises of political activism brought about by globalisation. Human rights organisations are typically perceived to be apolitical and purporting the rights of humanity, yet I call this perception into question and present alternative modes of interpretations. Their roles as intermediaries and carries of discourse are further explored through identifying particular discursive strategies, among others detectable in the unique style of the human rights report and the organisations’ claim to speak for the victims.
I also present a theoretical discussion on transitional justice; that is, how to best deal with the aftermath of mass atrocity, international crimes and state-orchestrated violence. Criminal trials have come to constitute the centrepiece of social repair, yet this is by no means the only alternative. Non-punitive mechanisms as truth commissions and amnesties are elaborated by reference to experiences in South Africa and other countries having dealt with a troubled past. As international criminal justice is an enterprise, both institutionally and academically, which builds its mastery on the works of domestic institutions and their discourses on justice, punishment, and conflict resolution, western domestic theories of justice are discussed and accounted for.
In the final chapter, I reach beyond international criminal justice in an effort to see its development in light of the social changes brought about by globalisation. Specific attention is given to the human rights movement where I question the validity of the concepts and values intrinsic to the movement. Lastly, I indicate some challenges and avenues for further criminological studies on international crimes.