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Anti-Impunity and the Human Rights Agenda

$34.99 (P)

  • Editors:
  • Karen Engle, University of Texas, Austin, School of Law
  • Zinaida Miller, Seton Hall University, School of Diplomacy and International Relations
  • D. M. Davis, University of Cape Town Faculty of Law
Karen Engle, Samuel Moyn, Vasuki Nesiah, D. M. Davis, Zinaida Miller, Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veçoso, Helena Alviar García, Natalie R. Davidson, Dianne Otto, Mahmood Mamdani
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  • Date Published: December 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107439221

$ 34.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • In the twenty-first century, fighting impunity has become both the rallying cry and a metric of progress for human rights. The new emphasis on criminal prosecution represents a fundamental change in the positions and priorities of students and practitioners of human rights and transitional justice: it has become almost unquestionable common sense that criminal punishment is a legal, political, and pragmatic imperative for addressing human rights violations. This book challenges that common sense. It does so by documenting and critically analyzing the trend toward an anti-impunity norm in a variety of institutional and geographical contexts, with an eye toward the interaction between practices at the global and local levels. Together, the chapters demonstrate how this laser focus on anti-impunity has created blind spots in practice and in scholarship that result in a constricted response to human rights violations, a narrowed conception of justice, and an impoverished approach to peace.

    • Identifies and critically analyses a major trend in international law and human rights
    • Considers case studies from a number of institutions, regions, and countries
    • Written with an interdisciplinary focus, which will appeal to scholars of law, political science, history, and anthropology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an exceptional edited volume. Whereas most edited volumes, unfortunately, do not go beyond collecting various perspectives on a theme, this book presents a clear argument: the anti-impunity turn in human rights law is not a linear development of progress and can have dangerous consequences. In setting forth these consequences, and analysing alternatives to the modus of criminal justice that the anti-impunity struggle has chosen as its preferred instrument, the book offers avenues towards richer and thicker conceptions and experiences of justice.' Sarah Nouwen, Co-Deputy Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge

    'This is the first sustained analysis of the 'anti-impunity' norm and discourse associated with the human rights movement. At the center of the project is the ambition to make the familiar strange and to expose taken-for-granted assumptions and identifications to critical scrutiny in a way that poses a powerful challenge to norms that frame contemporary international politics and interventions. … This book should be of great interest to a wide audience of scholars and policymakers. It articulates a direct rejoinder to what remains the dominant or conventional view among human rights scholars regarding the anti-impunity norm, while charting the path to a broader debate on the role of the human rights movement more generally.' Bronwyn Leebaw, University of California, Riverside

    'An urgent question of political strategy drives this extraordinary collection: when should people of good heart embrace the national or international machinery of government, prosecution and punishment? And when should they resist, seek alternate paths to justice, speak truth to the power of the state or the international community? The human rights movement offers a half-century case study, shifting sharply from international calls for 'amnesty' when states abuse their penal authority to a full-bore embrace of criminal punishment and 'no impunity.' To figure out what happened, what worked and what didn’t, the editors have curated a discussion among our most reflective and engaged scholars of international law, writing at their best. The result is challenging and surprising: crucial reading for anyone thinking strategically about ethics and global justice.' David Kennedy, Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Massachusetts

    'Put simply, the turn to criminal repression of international human rights law is one of the most intriguing global legal developments of the last decades. Anti-Impunity and the Human Rights Agenda not only does a great job of showing how dominant a move this has become, it also spares no effort in showing how contested, ambiguous, productive, and paradoxical that move is. A welcome problematization of what has become one of the great obsessions of our times.' Frédéric Mégret, McGill University, Montréal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107439221
    • length: 398 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. What Does Anti-Impunity Mean?:
    1. A genealogy of the criminal turn in human rights Karen Engle
    2. Anti-impunity as deflection of argument Samuel Moyn
    3. Doing history with impunity Vasuki Nesiah
    Part II. How and Where Does Anti-Impunity Operate?:
    4. The South African Truth Commission and the AZAPO case: a reflection almost two decades later D. M. Davis
    5. Anti-impunity politics in post-genocide Rwanda Zinaida Miller
    6. Whose exceptionalism? Debating the inter-American view on amnesty and the Brazilian case Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veçoso
    7. The distributive politics of impunity and anti-impunity: lessons from four decades of Colombian peace negotiations Helena Alviar García and Karen Engle
    8. From political repression to torturer impunity: the narrowing of Filártiga v. Peña-Irala Natalie R. Davidson
    Part III. Are There Alternatives to Anti-Impunity?:
    9. Impunity in a different register: people's tribunals and questions of judgment, law and responsibility Dianne Otto
    10. Beyond Nuremberg: the historical significance of the post-Apartheid transition in South Africa Mahmood Mamdani.

  • Editors

    Karen Engle, University of Texas, Austin, School of Law
    Karen Engle is Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, and Founder and Co-Director of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the 2016–17 Deborah Lunder and Alan Ezekowitz Founders' Circle Member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

    Zinaida Miller, Seton Hall University, School of Diplomacy and International Relations
    Zinaida Miller is Assistant Professor at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, New Jersey.

    D. M. Davis, University of Cape Town Faculty of Law
    D. M. Davis is Judge President of the Competition Appeal Court of South Africa, and a Judge of the High Court of Cape Town. He is Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Cape Town.


    Karen Engle, Samuel Moyn, Vasuki Nesiah, D. M. Davis, Zinaida Miller, Fabia Fernandes Carvalho Veçoso, Helena Alviar García, Natalie R. Davidson, Dianne Otto, Mahmood Mamdani

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