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contribution 03 - GARAPON Antoine

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ICTR assessment - Politics & Justice


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I am not going to make a summary of what has been partially done by my friend and colleague. I will revisit an issue which was recurrent in our deliberations, namely, the relations between politics and justice. What is disturbing is that this a power relationship which transcends law, which is above the law.

How can that be characterized? I will premise my thoughts on an observation made by Ms. Del Ponte this morning. International justice needs States. It needs politics, at least for the collection of evidence. But we have to emphasize that politics sometimes needs justice or the judiciary. So this is quite an asymmetrical relationship, but which is, however, a link.

Why? Why does politics feel the need to establish an International Court for Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia? This was rightly said by the previous speaker about the CNN phenomena. It is because there is a force. There is a power, which is public opinion. It is an opinion according to which justice drives, at least partially part of the world which touches on political violence on human suffering, on deadly sovereignty.

And the problem is that this form is more universal than the others. If we were to continue on the same track, this public opinion forced or compelled States to set up international Tribunals. It is cradled on crimes against humanity and specifically genocide. This was borne after the Second World War, the genocide of the Jews. Therefore genocide is a founding principle. It is very intimidating. We saw that in respect of our discussions yesterday on sentencing a genocide, how do you touch that fundamental reference?

I believe that our discussions on sentencing can be characterized as follows, but the question is: How do we give a human face to this model which is the absolute prohibition of genocide? I believe that international justice is moving out or away from its glorious times into the prosaic times, where the prose of justice has to deal with impure things.

In this power of relationship, the arms are not equal because politicians have their power. They have material power. They have the funding. They have casting votes. They also have invisible forces. We all are aware of the extent of the interference of intelligence services which cannot be easily tracked.

In the face of the power of States of politics, what are the strengths of international justice? It is the contrary. They don’t have the logistics, but they have the symbolical power because they deal with fundamental issues like preventing the suffering of victims.

Its main strength is its visibility. International criminal justice is powered by the fact that today it is one of the main means or drivers to bring the world into the limelight and to give meaning to the world. I believe that all of us, jurists and stakeholders in international criminal justice should be in a position to use this power properly.

There are several ways of envisioning the power relationship between justice and politics. The first is to deny it, to ignore it. The second one has accepted compromises. Either we have complete ignorance or we get into a negotiation phase to get proves.

But the problem is justice appears as a pure ideal which will be brought to the fore, while politics is the impure. It is all the more complex.

To avoid labouring the point, I believe that what is required in the relationship between politics and justice, we must not lose sight of the fact that when the ICC was set up, nobody believed in that International Court. Nobody can claim that we did not do anything. Something was done, but what is of import is that it doesn’t work.

So, to my mind, and what is not surprising, is the fact that politicians are trying to use their force or power. We cannot fathom the contrary. What the political circles decide, they obtain. But what is important is that justice exists and that it conquers politics and prevails over politics as enshrined in the Treaties. What is important to me in the appraisal which has been discussed at length is going to be an optimistic view. We have talked about the things that have not been successful. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in these long relationships between justice and politics, I do not believe that justice is the loser.

Thank you very much.


We will now move to the presentation by academics.

My proposal is the following: We should listen to the academics who are going to make a presentation of four or five minutes. At the end of their presentations, we will open the floor for discussion. I hope that you appreciated the silence of academics, which is quite supervising so far. But the intention here is not to monopolise the floor, but we are here to ensure proper dialogue.

So, for the time being, this is the slot of academics. Kindly write down your questions and forward same to us so that they can be responded to. I will start with Claudine Vidal who is a researcher at the CNRS.

Madam, you have the floor.