Nothing about us, without us, is for us’: victims and the international criminal justice system


This article evolved from AHRCentre Project Directors Louise Chappell and Andrea Durbach in conversation with Maxine Marcus, International Crimes Prosecutor and Investigator and Expert in Transformative Justice for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

The full article can be found in the The International Journal of Human Rights.

Read a short excerpt below and click on the DOI link above to access the full article.

Q1: What are some of the key features of the international criminal justice system that have attracted you to work in this area?
I began in the human rights field before the International Justice field existed, but as soon as it was feasible to investigate and prosecute international crimes, I focused intently upon that mission. I have been in the field of international justice since the mid 1990s.
The field of international justice as we have come to know it today began as an effort to learn from the elders – those who served at Nuremberg – who brought justice to survivors of mass atrocities of World War II. From the start of the international justice project, the victims were our focus, universal justice was our goal, and accountability was the means of reaching our goal. When I started on this journey, the idea of an International Criminal Court (ICC) was incomprehensible, a pipe dream. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was begun as an effort to stop the war in Bosnia when all other efforts had failed. The very idea that 20 years later we would be living in a world where the terms ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ were well understood, where crimes that shake the conscience of humanity can be prosecuted anywhere regardless of where the acts took place and where the victims remained in situ – for example, where a Senegalese court could provide a forum for justice for victims from Chad against the former Chadian President, [or] where elderly indigenous Mayan women in Guatemala could see military authorities convicted for sexual slavery in their own national courts more than 30 years after the atrocities were committed – is, in my view, nothing short of a bucket full of miracles.
Q2: What have been the key aims of the international justice system, and what have been some of the challenges that have emerged as it has developed?



Photo: Steve Evans