On July 17, 1998, the Rome Statue took effect, leading to the creation of the International Criminal Court. Yesterday, July 17, marked the 13th annual International Justice Day. As David Tolbert wrote for Al Jazeera English:
As we acknowledge International Justice Day on July 17, calls for accountability for human rights abuses resound across the globe, from Cairo to Washington, from Bogota to Kinshasa, from Srebrenica to Colombo. The demands for justice are today a driving force of social change and popular revolutions, and their reach now extends to those at the highest levels of power. Those leaders have, from time immemorial, been deemed untouchable and often afforded immunity in furtive and shabby deals that shielded them from prosecution “for the sake of peace”. That day is passing.
It is essential the past be confronted, the truth be told, victims’ injuries be redressed and steps be taken to ensure institutions that perpetrated crimes — such as the police and military — be reformed. Thus, in addition to the work of international and national courts, broader justice strategies are essential in transitional societies.
It’s a straightforward point, yet a profound challenge: when a crime cannot be prosecuted, or a trial is not enough, how can we assure that injuries are redressed? And moreover, how can we ensure that voices are heard, that stories are told?