Options for Justice: A Handbook for Designing Accountability Mechanisms for Grave Crimes

The International Criminal Court in The Hague commands the greatest attention within the international justice movement, but it exists alongside a diverse range of national and regional tribunals developed to deliver accountability in the aftermath of conflict.

Some of these national, ad hoc, and internationalized courts and tribunals have recorded major successes. Others have struggled, hampered by inefficiency, funding shortages, and politics. Leadership and operation are important determinants of success, but getting things right starts with a justice mechanism’s design. 

Options for Justice, from the Open Society Justice Initiative, is the most ambitious effort to date to assess the record of different approaches—and to draw lessons for the design of future mechanisms.

Options for Justice will be available in early 2018. Email your name, title, and address now to [email protected] to reserve your free copy.

What’s in the Handbook

  • What it takes to set up an accountability mechanism. Options for Justice provides 80 pages of analysis drawn from its wide study of international, national, and regional tribunals and courts—from defining a purpose, determining relationships with the domestic legal system, and determining the limits of jurisdiction; to choosing a location, arranging financing and oversight, and integrating international and local judges and staff.
  • What worked, what did not, and what might have worked better. In considering the ad hoc international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; the hybrid and internationalized experiences of Sierra Leone and Cambodia; and the use of domestic proceedings in the Balkans, Argentina, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Options for Justice takes an unvarnished look at what was achieved in 33 different case studies. These include proposed regional or national tribunals that failed to gain political support or are still pending.

This handbook seeks to distill lessons from past experiences to help guide those designing new mechanisms of criminal accountability for grave crimes. The lessons and considerations this handbook offers are meant to guide policymakers through often-thorny calculations about costs, benefits, and even contradictions in design choices.