In recent years the world has seen no respite in conflict where civilians are being particularly targeted with increased brutality. Reports of the devastation wrought by conflict and terror seem to overtake one another with civilian casualties soaring in Syria, Central African Republic, Gaza, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Ukraine, and more.
Especially worrying is that, increasingly, impunity reigns for the perpetrators of these atrocities. While recent decades were by no means violence-free, they have seen strong efforts to seek justice for victims: during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the international community seemed to progress towards encouraging states to prosecute serious crimes, and building internationalized judicial institutions when countries were unable or unwilling to prosecute the architects of atrocities.
Today, however, political will and cooperation in upholding the interests of justice seem to have faltered: African governments have vowed to shield sitting heads of state from judicial oversight, and in Guatemala, despite huge efforts by victims and civil society, political forces continue to derail the trial of a former dictator accused of genocide. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council failed to refer the violence in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the ICC Chief Prosecutor, citing a UN Security Council stalemate that can “only embolden perpetrators”, announced the suspension of the Court’s investigation of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
These developments have recently prompted ICTJ President David Tolbert to sound a warning that the international community is backsliding on its obligations to protect human rights. The piece sparked a global conversation, one which continues with urgency today. To continue this conversation, ICTJ is convening an online debate, to host dialogue on a central question: Is the international community abandoning the fight against impunity?
To the debate, we are pleased to welcome two of the world’s leading experts in human rights: Arguing "Yes" is renowned author and human rights scholar Michael Ignatieff, arguing “No” is United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
Moderated by ICTJ President David Tolbert, the debate will unfold in three rounds throughout the next month, and will include contributions from special guests.
Follow along on Twitter and Facebook using #ImpunityDebate.
Read the debate website here: https://www.ictj.org/debate/impunity/opening-remarks