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International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans


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This book tells the compelling story of how the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda prod states implicated in atrocities to hand over their own leaders for trial. Without state cooperation, the United Nations would fail in its mission to help bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice and to rebuild and reconcile war-torn societies. The tribunals’ relative success in overcoming state resistance to international trials is the outcome of a political process that Victor Peskin uncovers and explains. This is the first in-depth, comparative study of state cooperation in the tribunals.


Part I. Introduction: 1. International war crimes tribunals and the politics of state cooperation; Part II. The Balkans: Strategies of Noncompliance and Instruments of Pressure: 2. Slobodan Milosevic and the politics of state cooperation; 3. International justice and Serbia's troubled democratic transition; 4. Franjo Tudman and the politics of international justice; 5. The politics of state cooperation in Croatia's democratic era; Part III. Rwanda: Virtual Trials, International Justice, and the Politics of Shame: 6. The struggle to create the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; 7. 'Trials of cooperation' and the battles for Karamira and Barayagwiza; 8. Investigating Rwandan patriotic front atrocities and the politics of bearing witness; 9. Victor's justice revisited: the prosecutor vs. Kagame; Part IV. Conclusion: 10. The present and future of international criminal justice.

Prize Winner

2008 Choice Outstanding Academic Title


“…most academic commentators are enamored of the alleged independence of the international tribunals from the realm of the political, extolling their ability to transcend such considerations. By contrast, Peskin starts with the assumption that politics is at the core of the operation of these tribunals. The way forward is to acknowledge this reality, he posits, rather than to deny it…Peskin’s important and valuable insights into the relationship between international tribunals and the governments of countries that are targeted by their prosecutions provide great assistance in understanding future problems….His findings should be much studied by those who are struggling to make the International Criminal Court work.”
William A. Schabas, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Law and Politics Book Review

“Based on field research and interviews conducted in the targeted states, the tribunals, and in key international sites, Victor Peskin’s new book, International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans, looks behind the scenes focusing on, a mostly overlooked issue in the tribunal literature, the tribunal-state struggle over cooperation in the pursuit of accountability….In his analysis of the International Criminal Court, Peskin explains why this court is likely to face even greater difficulties in its quest for state cooperation than either the ICTY or ICTR have experienced.”
Christophe Solioz, South East Europe Review

“In fascinating detail, Peskin documents and contrasts the complex politics of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda….His scholarly analysis reiterates how the quest for international peace must sometimes trump idealistic efforts to achieve justice…For scholars and practitioners of diplomacy and international law, this publication is indispensable. Summing Up: Essential. ”
P.G. Conway, SUNY College at Oneonta, Choice

"In every respect, this is an outstanding analysis, original and much-needed. This book represents a very important step in the general effort to subject a topic that has been dominated by activists and lawyers to serious social scientific and theoretical analysis. This will make it useful both to researchers and to a more general readership of people who have an interest in the regions under consideration and in issues of humanitarian law more broadly."
Eric Gordy, University College London

"Both the promise and limits of international criminal courts emerge vividly from these pages, for it’s a tale that’s alternately heartening and sobering. This author has done tough legwork in the trenches and interviews on the ground with key players in several countries, and he joins them all to insightful and rewarding reflection on the evolving direction of international tribunals. It’s a rare book that’s so tersely written and tightly edited that, opening it at any page and reading any sentence, one immediately sees the connection to the central arguments. This is one; there’s not a wasted word."
Mark Osiel, University of Iowa

"Victor Peskin has written an outstanding book that should command immediate attention from anyone interested in international justice and international human rights. Emerging from years of field research in the Balkans, Rwanda, Arusha, and the Hague, Peskin concludes that state cooperation is a central but often overlooked issue that shapes how international human rights courts operate. Peskin’s insight is straightforward, but it has profound implications. Peskin writes exceptionally well to boot, and he benefits from telling some extraordinary tales in the history of the tribunals. This is a terrific and riveting piece of scholarship."
Scott Straus, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Drawing on more than three hundred interviews in Rwanda and the Balkans and at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Peskin provides a penetrating international relations analysis of international law, highlighting crucial interplays among tribunals, states, and international organizations...Through an innovative conceptual framework and dedicated field research, Peskin illuminates the complexities of prosecuting high-ranking suspects whom states often wish to shield. Consequently, Peskin provides indispensable insight into the challenges that international justice institutions face in securing state cooperation—and, perhaps most important, into the sparse moments when the ICTY and ICTR have overcome those challenges to deliver something other than victor's justice.”
Phil Clark, Ethics and International Affairs

“...[Peskin] has advanced our understanding in a relatively neglected area of study. Future scholars of international criminal courts will have to contend with this very impressive work. Indeed, Peskin has set the bar high for future comparative studies of tribunal politics.”
Ernesto Verdeja, The Review of Politics

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