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International Criminal Tribunals as Actors of Domestic Change

The Impact on Media Coverage, Volume 2


Edited By Klaus Bachmann, Irena Ristić and Gerhard Kemp

Do International Criminal Tribunals trigger social change, provide reconciliation, stabilize fragile post-conflict societies? Many authors claim they do, but they base their assumptions mainly on theoretical considerations and opinion polls. The editors and authors of this book take a different position: based on extensive field research in nine European and African countries, they examine whether tribunal decisions resulted in changes in media frames about the conflicts which gave rise to the creation of these tribunals. International Tribunals hardly ever shape or change the grand narratives about wars and other conflicts, but they often manage to trigger small changes in media frames which, in some cases, even lead to public reflexion about guilt and responsibility and more awareness for (the respective enemy's) victims. On an empirical basis, this book shows the potential of International Criminal Justice, the possibilities, but also the limits of International Criminal Tribunals. Volume 2 presents the evidence from Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan.

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Rwanda: shifts in media frames and the ICTR



Rwanda’s existence as a nation state dates from the 11th century. It is a country located in the Great Lakes Region of Africa with a total area of 26,338 km² and a very high population density of 400 inhabitants per km, and a high rate annual population growth (2.6 %). It has a total population of 10.5 million, of which 52 % are women and 48 % men; among these 83 % are living in rural areas1. Before the colonial period, Rwanda was a centralized kingdom under which a monopoly of power was in the hands of the king and his advisors, who decided on all matters. The large majority of the population had little access to power or privilege except through the king. The advent of first the German and then the Belgian colonizers brought far-reaching changes to the country. Germany’s control over Rwanda lasted only until its 1918 defeat in World War I. Subsequently, in 1919, Rwanda became a mandate territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium. During this period, the Belgian colonizers had discriminated against the majority of the population (Hutu) and favored the minority (Tutsi), redrawing political, social, and economic relationships of power between the population2. By the time of independence in 1962, the Hutu majority was both resentful and frustrated by the total domination of the Tutsi and Belgians in all spheres of lives. Thus, Hutu took power in the name of revolutionary democracy and...

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