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United Nations peace-building, amnesties and alternative forms of justice: A change in practice?

31-03-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 845, by Carsten Stahn


Carsten Stahn,
LL.M.(Cologne-Paris), is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. 

United Nations practice with regard to amnesty for international crimes has evolved considerably over the past twenty years. In its early peace-building efforts the world body set few restrictions and accepted peace agreements which guaranteed a general amnesty. However, such amnesties were supplemented by truth commissions. The author shows how the amnesty clauses in peace agreements subsequently became more limited, with a discussion of the recent examples of East Timor and Sierra Leone. The internationalized court chambers there seem to indicate a tendency, on the one hand, to limit prosecution to the most serious atrocities and, on the other, to strengthen alternative forms of justice for less serious crimes.  

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