71 U. Colo. L. Rev. 409 (2000)
Combating Impunity for International Crimes

handle is hein.journals/ucollr71 and id is 437 raw text is: COMBATING IMPUNITY FOR
INTERNATIONAL CRIMES
M. CHERIF BASSIOUNI*
During the twentieth century, the world has witnessed
more than 250 conflicts of different types, resulting in an esti-
mated 75 to 170 million persons killed. Moreover, massive vic-
timization has resulted from the conduct of both State and non-
State actors engaging in policies of extra-judicial execution,
torture, rape, and other atrocities in violation of international
humanitarian law and international human rights law norms.
Yet, in most of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes
have benefited from impunity because of political considera-
tions. The world community thus has forsaken its post-World
War II pledge, never again.
Impunity, at both the international and national levels, is
due to the conflicting goals of realpolitik and justice. In other
words, the policies and practices of accommodation in the pur-
suit of political settlement conflict with legal accountability in
the pursuit of retributive and restorative justice.
Realpolitik reflects the pursuit of political settlements for
conflicts through a compromise that is unencumbered by moral
and ethical limitations. In general, these settlements forsake
the interests of justice, and particularly the interests of the
conflict's victims, in favor of achieving expedient political ends.
In contrast, accountability embodies the goals of retributive
and restorative justice. It seeks to achieve peace and recon-
ciliation, to prevent the recurrence of conflict, to bring closure
to a conflict, to establish a record of truth, to sanction those re-
sponsible, and to provide redress to victims.
Professor of Law and President, International Human Rights Law Insti-
tute, DePaul College of Law. J.D., Indiana University, 1964; LL.M., The John
Marshall Law School, 1966; S.J.D., George Washington University, 1973; Dottore
in Giurisprudenza, Honoris Causa, The University of Torino, Italy, 1981; Docteur
en Droit (d'Etat), Honoris Causa, The University of Pau, France, 1987; Doctor of
Law, Honoris Causa, The University of Niagara, New York, 1997. This essay is
adapted from a lecture presented by Professor Bassiouni at the University of
Colorado School of Law on April 8, 1999.

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