International Justice: Complementarity and Kampala

As we prepare for the Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda next month, I wanted to share with you this series of mini-documentaries hosted by the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard.

This week’s feature video hits on a particularly critical topic for Kampala, and a high priority for the Open Society Justice Initiative: complementarity.

Would international justice be advanced or thwarted if an African Regional Court was given jurisdiction to try individuals for war crimes and crimes against humanity? Is it part of international justice to provide training and other assistance to domestic police, prosecutors, and defense lawyers as well as judges, or is this beyond the scope of the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court?

We debate these questions and others under the rubric of “complementarity,” the principle that the ICC should complement, rather than displace, domestic justice systems that are willing and able to prosecute Rome Statute crimes.

The Open Society Justice Initiative is a vocal supporter of complementarity. We hope to see governments and other donors pledge to strengthen national and regional justice systems at Kampala, so that victims can find redress for war crimes and crimes against humanity at a local level, rather than seeing the ICC as their only option.

Each video in this series highlights a contemporary issue facing the system of international criminal justice, based on the proceedings of the Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice, held at UN Headquarters in New York in September 2009. I encourage you to take a look!

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