Standing Up for Justice: The Challenges of Trying Atrocity Crimes

ISBN : 9780198863434

Theodor Meron
384 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2021
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This is a book about international criminal justice written by one of its foremost practitioners and academic thinkers, Judge Theodor Meron. For two decades, Judge Meron has been at the heart of the international criminal justice system, serving as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, and a Judge of the Appeals Chambers of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Drawing on this experience, and his life and career before serving as an international judge, Judge Meron reflects on some of the key questions facing the international criminal justice system. In the opening chapter, Judge Meron writes vividly about his childhood experiences in Poland during World War II, his education, career with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and subsequent move into academia in the United States. The book continues with Meron's reflections on what it means to transform from a law professor into an international criminal judge, and shifts focus to the criminal courtroom, addressing topics such as the judicial function, the rule of law, and the principle of fairness in trying atrocity crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Judge Meron discusses judicial independence and impartiality in international criminal courts, shedding light on the mystery of judicial decision-making and deliberations. Notably, he addresses the controversial subjects of acquittals and the early release of prisoners. Although acquittals are often seen as a failure of international justice, Judge Meron argues that legal principle must come before any extraneous purpose, however desirable that purpose may be. Finally, the book looks ahead at the challenges facing the future of international justice and accountability, and discusses the all-important question: does international criminal justice work?


Part I: Setting the Scene
1 Roots: the Road to Judgeship
2 From Classroom to Criminal Courtroom
3 Moving from Nuremberg to The Hague
Part II: Principles, Goals, Processes
4 The Rule of Law, the Principle of Legality, and Due Process
5 Trying Violations of Human Rights in International Criminal Tribunals
6 Judicial Independence and Impartiality
7 Jusicial Decision-Making and Deliverations
8 Keeping POWs Safe: The Ovcara Massacre
9 General Gotovina: A Controversial Acquittal
Part III: Selected Decisions
10 Fleshing out Principles of Fairness
11 Writing Separately: My Dissenting and Concurring Opinions
12 Early Release of Prisoners Decisions
13 The Road Ahead: Does International Justice Work?

About the author: 

Theodor Meron is a Judge and, between March 2012 and January 2019, was the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. He was also a Judge of the Appeals Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since his election to the ICTY in March 2001 and until the closure of those Tribunals. In addition, he served a total of four terms of President of the ICTY. He is Charles L. Denison Professor of Law Emeritus at NYU Law School and, since 2014, a Visiting Professor of International Criminal Law at Oxford University. He is a Visiting Fellow at Mansfield College and Academic Associate of the Bonavero and Honorary Visiting Fellow in Trinity College. In 2019, he was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) for service to criminal justice and international humanitarian law.

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