Peace and justice
This house believes that punishing wrongdoers is fundamental to securing lasting peace.ENTER THIS DEBATE
What do you think?
Voting at a glance
Representing the sides
Human Rights Watch's research has demonstrated that a decision to ignore atrocities and reinforce a culture of impunity can carry a high price.
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Creating the conditions for justice sometimes requires bargaining with wrongdoers in the short run to remove them as a stumbling block to peace.
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About this debate
Every time a dictatorship crumbles, or the end of a long, bloody war looks possible, a dilemma seems to arise. Should perpetrators of ghastly human rights abuses always be put on trial? Or is it sometimes expedient to grant selective amnesties, especially if that appears to be the only way to edge an old regime out or persuade a bloodthirsty warlord to lay down arms? As the International Criminal Court consolidates its position, a big slice of global opinion has come down on the side of justice. Advocates point out that impunity for egregious wrong-doers can poison a new democratic order or undermine a peace settlement. If he is caught alive, Libya's Colonel Muammar Qaddafi seems certain to face justice, and few people regret that. But in the aftermath of ethnic conflicts, especially, the dilemma can be a hard one. In places ranging from Northern Ireland to Mozambique, wide-ranging amnesties were granted because an end to violence seemed impossible on any other terms. Was that too high a price to pay for peace?
International justice in Africa: The International Criminal Court bares its teeth
Khmer Rouge trials: Justice of a kind
Canada and international justice: Be off with you
Banyan: In the name of the father
Charlemagne: No time for doubters
The Economist Asks: Should toppled Arab autocrats go on trial?
Spain and its past: Justice wars
Banyan: Truth and consequences