Crimes of war and political communities : political, judicial and civic responses to mass atrocities in the name of a community / by Djordje Djordjević
Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-285)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
Mass atrocities are often committed in the name of, and with a backing of large segments of political communities. An increased identification of actors with the collectives typical of conflict situations can inform commission of crimes and communal bias in assessing those acts. We can identify three kinds of policy responses in post-conflict environment that attempt to punish and offer redress for crimes, and prevent their reoccurrence: (1) political, devising policies that deal with political communities as a whole; (2) judicial, prosecuting individuals criminally liable for crimes; and (3) civic, requiring civic engagement to respond to mass crimes done in collective name. Hannah Arendt was one of the first to recognize deficiencies of political response and limitations of judicial response in regards to Nazi crimes. While wholesale approach enforces collectivist logic of conflict and allows for sheltering of individuals under the aegis of collective guilt, war crime trials fail to provide adequate punishment and deterring mechanisms. Arendt puts in question whether actions of Nazi lesser subordinates, instrumental in perpetration of crimes of Holocaust can be considered manifestly illegal, and thus judiciable, given the reversal of moral and legal norms. To the extent that judicial response depends on rule-following behavior, it proved to be historically inapt to prevent mass participation in administrative murder. The civic response that is proposed here as a complement to criminal justice has its grounding in Arendt's alternative found in political judgment. The common power of judging, which I attach to the notion of civic responsibility, enable us not only to deduct maxims of actions from given rules, but also to forge our own rules in spite of dominant social norms, including those informing collectively discriminatory policies. Judging, as embodied in citizens' perspective, requires that we take into account viewpoints of all those who will be affected by our actions. Civic responsibility will therefore, require individual action and inform solidarity against attempts of genocide and widespread crimes against humanity. Taking up this responsibility will also consist of removing the crust of collective bias that is often attached to assessing misdeeds committed in our name, facilitating community's process of facing the past, which is central to transitional justice mechanisms.
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