Chapter

HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE, AND THE RIGHT TO TRUTH

William Schabas

in Unimaginable Atrocities

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653072
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739361 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653072.003.0007
HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE, AND THE RIGHT TO TRUTH

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International justice is a potent mechanism for the promotion of the rights and freedoms that involve truth and information. The facts established in the Nuremberg trials provide an enormous repository of knowledge about the aggressive war and the atrocities committed in its wake. This benefits enormously the few victims who still survive while at the same time both stabilizing and enriching our contemporary understanding of the past. Much the same can be said of more recent ventures dealing with the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. There are, to be sure, many shortcomings. International justice has blind spots that result from its jurisdictional framework. These may sometimes be inadvertent, but they can also result from deliberate attempts to obscure part of the truth. Complementing international criminal justice are truth commissions and similar bodies that are capable of filling some of the gaps left by trials. It is important to foreclose the questioning of established historical facts when this pursues sinister agendas. At the same time, neither trials nor truth commissions should be allowed to stifle a constant reconsideration and reassessment of the past, something that is the essential contribution of professional historians.

Keywords: international justice; truth; rights; freedom

Chapter.  8707 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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