Judging war : the politics of international war crimes tribunals : a thesis / presented by Gary Jonathan Bass.
International war crimes tribunals are an increasingly familiar feature of international politics, with two United Nations tribunals currently prosecuting atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and a proposed permanent UN war crimes court. In the first systematic analysis of the politics underlying these tribunals, this dissertation seeks to find the conditions under which governments will support such trials. Drawing on liberal and ideational perspectives on international relations theory, this dissertation argues that only liberal states pursue war crimes tribunals. Authoritarian and totalitarian states may pursue clearly rigged show trials for propaganda, but only liberal states have insisted on the export of domestic norms of due process into their foreign policy. But there are clear limits to liberal idealism. Even liberal states are extremely reluctant to risk their soldiers in order to bring war criminals to book. And the war crimes that seize the attention of liberal states are usually those committed against their own citizens or soldiers, even if far greater atrocities have been perpetrated against foreigners. This analysis, in the form of falsifiable hypotheses, is tested against the empirical evidence from five detailed case studies. The case studies are based on primary research in European and American archives, and, for the former Yugoslavia case, on an extensive series of interviews with decision-makers. The case study chapters are: I. St. Helena: British and Prussian punishment of Bonapartists after the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815; II. Leipzig: British, French and American attitudes towards the punishment of German war criminals, including Wilhelm II, during and after World War I; III. Constantinople: British attempts to punish Young Turks for the 1915 Armenian massacres and for abuse of British prisoners of war in World War I, leading to trials of top Ottoman leaders in Constantinople in 1919; IV. Nuremberg: American, Soviet and British motivations in creating the international military tribunal for the Nazi leadership, and trials for lesser Nazis; and V. The Hague: American, British, French and Russian policy on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and on the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Finally, suggesting future directions for research, this dissertation considers whether war crimes tribunals have met their stated objectives: deterrence, reconciliation, and truth-telling.
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