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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 15:41 GMT
Where now for international justice?
The trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague marks a turning point in the concept of international justice.
Never before has a former head of state been held personally accountable before an international tribunal for crimes against his own people.
The Nuremburg trials, established after World War II to prosecute the Nazi leadership, laid down for the first time that international criminal justice could put on trial leaders and former leaders previously thought to have state immunity.
So, how well is the tribunal functioning?
Alex Boraine, former co-chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, says in the main it is working well, but there are problems:
"Denial is still very, very uppermost in Serbia. They find it extraordinarily difficult to come to terms with the fact that they have caused such hardship and havoc and worse.
"So Milosevic taking the stand and making that extremely long introductory speech and cross-examining witnesses, has become almost more of a hero in Serbia than he was before."
"If I had been advising Milosevic as to how you do the worst to international criminal justice, I would have said just stay in your prison cell. Ignore the court.
"If Milosevic had ignored it, then I don't think anyone would have taken much notice of it. Its judgements would not have emerged from a genuine adversary procedure."
The aim of international justice, however, is broader than simply retribution for the perpetrators of crimes.
It is also about reconciliation for the people against whom crimes have been committed.
"They need to put more resources into educating people within former Yugoslavia as to the work of the tribunal and its impartiality."
International tribunals are not, of course, the only way of dealing with crimes against humanity.
There are also non-judicial truth and reconciliation commissions, such as the one set up in post-apartheid South Africa.
Alex Boraine, who was co-chairman of that commission, says: "I feel quite strongly that one has to re-define justice, if you like... so that both perpetrator and victim are seen together in the same context.
Mr Boraine says the South African model achieved a "limited amount of justice", but had many pluses.
"I think that the fact that the proceedings were in public, that both perpetrators and victims had an opportunity to tell their story, we got far more truth, frankly, out of the perpetrators and they validated many of the witnesses that came as victims.
"I think it's a question of doing what you can and be true to justice and to a measure of reconciliation."
Some national governments argue that they should be allowed to try their own war criminals internally.
Indonesia, for example, has said it will try those who have allegedly committed crimes in East Timor, and Camobodia says it is capable of dealing with the Khmer Rouge.
"It remains to be seen whether Indonesia has the judge-power, the resources, to put on trial General Wiranto and others.
"If there isn't, then clearly they do need international assistance - as is being given to Sierra Leone."
"As for Cambodia, the record is appalling. Pol Pot is now dead, but his lieutenants are very much alive... Hun Sen, who is the leader of Cambodia, has shown no interest, real genuine interest, in bringing them to justice."
The next most likely stage in the future of international criminal justice is the establishment - expected by the end of this year - of a fully independent international criminal court.
How likely is it, though, that the court will be genuinely independent of big power politics? Peggy Hicks is optimistic:
"There has been a huge effort to ensure that this court learns from the process - that's one of the great things the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia have contributed."
But Alex Boraine is unhappy the Americans will not be taking part:
So where does international justice go from here?
Peggy Hicks says one of the most important things we have learned is the need to take a "holistic approach".
"We need to deal with the past while building for the future.
"So we need to make sure that the mechanisms that we use are not simply about prosecuting past crimes, but that we look at how we can build societies through justice that affects people on the ground.
"That means re-building and creating new justice systems in the countries which have been affected."
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