November 18, 2022
Panel VII: International Law and Justice: Lessons from Ukraine
Following World War II, the first generation of international justice heralded a seismic shift toward rule of law, rather than the law of force. The second generation of modern international justice began to build the architecture to make that idea a reality for victims in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, with large scale multilateral tribunals, courts, and transitional justice processes all geared toward making good on the justice promise. This promise ultimately culminated in a permanent war crimes tribunal at the International Criminal Court. The ICC represented an important step forward, but it lacks jurisdiction in many atrocity situations and, even where it does have jurisdiction, deals with only those at the top who are most responsible.
This panel will look at the next frontier. Over the last fifteen years, we have had hundreds of thousands of new victims in Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar, Xinjiang, Ethiopia, and now Ukraine. How do we ensure a satisfactory answer for the vast majority of victims around the globe? It is a pivotal moment: fundamental international laws and norms we have spent decades forming and building and nurturing in support of victims’ calls for justice are being eroded and undermined by authoritarian rulers. Simultaneously, the architecture and systems we have put in place have become gridlocked. Compounding this is a rapidly changing world that will bring new forms of conflict, new crimes, and new victims. Emerging technologies, information and data, climate change, and disappearing geopolitical lines and boundaries require us to not just “think back” to historic precedents, but to think forward and to think differently. This panel will grapple with these issues, using Ukraine as the starting point for the discussion.