Peace or Justice? : The Dilemma of the International Criminal Court

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Sengupta, Krishanu
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Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal
In this article, I address the much-publicized "peace versus justice dilemma" faced by the International Criminal Court. The world's first permanent war crimes Court, the ICC has defied many of its critics by commencing its first case, investigating four situations, issuing arrest warrants in two cases, and receiving its first defendant in The Hague. However, in two of its three situations-in Uganda and Darfur-- the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) faces the potentially delegitimizing peace versus justice dilemma: should ICC investigation or prosecution be foregone if it threatens or complicates peace in its situation countries. The coverage of the OTP's handling of the issue has been sparse and desultory. I will show, through analysis of reports and statements from the OTP throughout its two investigations put in the historical and political context of the status of peace and comments of government and rebel officials regarding the ICC, that there has been a rhetorical strategy of the OTP regarding responding to the peace vs. justice issue. I posit further that there has been a definite shift in this strategy---with evidence showing that it employed a more assertive and direct approach to dealing with the issue after heightened criticism and on-the-ground developments supported critics' claims that its investigations threatened peace.
International Criminal Court. , International criminal courts