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Justice and accountability


International human rights standards guarantee that victims of human rights abuse should have a right to a remedy – and where that abuse amounts to criminal conduct, this includes seeing the perpetrators brought to justice.

All states are under a duty to prosecute the most important international crimes – war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – and those states that have joined the International Criminal Court have special duties in this regard. In this final module we look at different methods for pursuing justice, through both national and international mechanisms, and the difficulties of doing so.

Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • describe the range of possible tools to ensure accountability for grave human rights abuses;
  • explain the key rules guiding the operation of the International Criminal Court;
  • explain the universal jurisdiction rule for certain human rights crimes;
  • evaluate the use of truth and reconciliation commissions; and
  • debate the arguments regarding the legality and advisability of pursuing justice for perpetrators of serious human rights abuse.