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Justice on Hold. Accountability and social reconstruction in Iraq

31-03-2008 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 869, by Eric Stover, Miranda Sissons, Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck

This article takes a critical look at the accountability measures implemented by the United States in Iraq. What is needed is a secure environment and a legitimate authority to implement a comprehensive transitional justice strategy that reflects the needs and priorities of a wide range of Iraqis. Such a strategy should contain several measures, including prosecutions, reparations, a balanced approach to vetting, truth-seeking mechanisms, and institutional reform.

   

Eric Stover is the Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
Miranda Sissons is Deputy Director, Middle East, for the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).
Phuong Pham is a Research Associate Professor at the Payson Center for International Development, Tulane University, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley.
Patrick Vinck is Project Director of the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations. 
 
Abstract 
Having invaded Iraq without UN Security Council authorization, the United States was unable to convince many countries to take a meaningful role in helping Iraq deal with its violent past. Always insisting that it would ‘‘go it alone’’, the United States implemented accountability measures without properly consulting the Iraqi people. Nor did the United States access assistance from the United Nations and international human rights organizations, all of which possess considerable knowledge and experience of a wide range of transitional justice mechanisms. In the end, the accountability measures introduced by the Americans either backfired or were hopelessly flawed. What are needed in Iraq are a secure environment and a legitimate authority to implement a comprehensive transitional justice strategy that reflects the needs and priorities of a wide range of Iraqis. Such a strategy should contain several measures, including prosecutions, reparations, a balanced approach to vetting, truthseeking mechanisms and institutional reform.

   
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