Justice Beyond the Hague: Supporting the Prosecution of International Crimes in National Courts

Council on Foreign Relations publication; Council Special Report No. 61

This report discusses the strengths and limitations of current international justice mechanisms and makes an argument for government to focus on building and supporting domestic frameworks to combat war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also outlines ways that the U.S. government can improve, expand, and coordinate its aid for national justice systems.

More specifically, the report examines existing international justice mechanisms, analyzes how they have succeeded and where they have failed, and explains what reforms national legal systems will require to secure just and peaceful outcomes. The author concludes that there are some common needs among countries experiencing or emerging from violent conflict, including:

  • Political pressure on governments reluctant to prosecute perpetrators
  • Assistance in building legal frameworks and training legal officials
  • Support for investigations, including forensic analysis and security sector reform
  • Creating belief in the justice system among the local population