From Charles I to Charles Taylor
20 The Punishment Ethic in International Relations
An explosion in national and international ‘justice’
The story told by this book may begin in the seventeenth century but it is overwhelmingly a twentieth- and twenty-first-century one. Apart from Charles I and Louis XVI, the criminal law has been used to adjudicate acts of state only since the end of World War I. As we have seen, there was a peak in these prosecutions after World War II and then a lull. The tempo picked up after the end of the Cold War and accelerated dramatically in the first decade of the twenty-first century, as international criminal law became a fashionable and, above all, lucrative growth industry: Rwanda’s ‘Gacaca’ trials cost $50 per suspect and tried about 1.3 million people, no doubt in very questionable circumstances. But over the same period, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda conducted mammoth trials of 75 Rwandans, many of which lasted over a decade, at a cost of $20,000,000 per suspect. By the same token, the International Criminal Court had consumed $1 billion during the 12 years of its existence up to 2014 ($83 million per year or over $1.5 million per week) and yet had by then concluded only two trials. As a result, whereas there had been only thirty criminal trials of heads of state for acts of state in the three centuries from 1649 to 2008, when Saddam Hussein was executed, no fewer than fifteen new heads of state were indicted or tried in...
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