Paris, 28 September 2007 (FH) - Reconciliation, forgiveness, history, truth, justice... In "Juger la Guerre, Juger l'Histoire", published by the Presses Universitaires de France, Pierre Hazan examines the international system initiated at the beginning of the 1990's.   

3 min 16Approximate reading time

For the author, "the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1993) inaugurated this height of the judiciarization of international relations, which ended with the attacks of 11 September 2001". Former journalist with the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Pierre Hazan goes into an in-depth analysis of transitional justice, the political foundations of the truth commissions and their universality.
"Uniting the concept of justice to that of transition, transitional justice became the incarnation of the paradigm of the new era: the tension between civilization and cruelty and its solution, the metamorphosis of societies, it being the passage from dictatorship to democracy", Hazan writes. According to him, it creates "concrete solutions, establishing a compromise between the ideal of justice and political realism"
This justice, he writes, is "ambitions to domesticate violence by the weapon of law". It "became quasi-prescriptive in the name of the re-establishment of peace, of democracy and of regional stability". But for Pierre Hazan, the blossoming of transitional justice broke down with the attacks perpetrated on New York in September 2001, the following day of the conference against racism organized by the United Nations in Durban, South Africa.
The failure of this conference has, according to Pierre Hazan, revealed two visions of the world; whereas the United Nations "had hoped that a management of past crimes by the mechanism of transitional justice would be possible". In Durban, "African governments, and radicals like Cuba, saw in the arrival of the ANC to power the triumph of a people's revolt vis-à-vis a racist exploitation system", while "the Western governments put the accent on, for themselves, a peaceful transition which did not call into question the distribution of riches, nor the capitalist system (reinforced admittedly by the laws of racial discrimination of apartheid) which generated such inequalities.
"The Western governments saw in the spirit of restorative justice a reformist vision of society which reassured them". Consequently, the author warns against a misuse of traditional justice, which would be seen as an end and not a step in post-war rebuilding.
But the mass crimes or violations of human rights "cannot be managed and treated by administrative sciences as specific problems", he writes. "This technocratic reductionism, even if it attracts politicians because it offers them the empty promise of "turning the page" on the past, rests on an illusion". According to the author, "there cannot be ready made solutions which allow to quickly re-stitch the broken fabric of a society. Social rebuilding is calculated in generations", he adds.
Applying this precondition, Hazan estimates that through "the search for a world where war criminals would be punished", traditional justice "allows to foresee a world that is, from now on, alleviated by the domestication of violence by law, by the introduction of a fair peace where the wounds of history would finally be healed. It makes it possible to hope for an end to history. It is a policy of purity, if not innocence, which answers in echo the policies of ethnic purification ".
The author basis himself on his observations of the work of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) in Morocco (2004/2006), the first in the Arab-Moslem world, to conclude that the idea of transitional justice develops and mixes "according to the singularity of each historical situation" and stresses that "according to its political objectives, each state draws from its culture to mobilize a symbolic system which legitimates strategies of amnesty, if it is necessary"
The proceedings started by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, illustrate, according to him, tensions between peace and justice, which is, from now on, assumed and articulated. The prosecutor becomes "one of the parties in the conflict" and "lays out, from now on, the tools to arbitrate competition in the search for justice and peace: in theory, he can, at the same time, answer the requirement for justice which is directed towards the management of past crimes, and the requirement of peace, directed towards the future with the objective of a political payback for the conflict".
Instrumentalized, international justice can also play "a strategic role: eliminating from the political sphere those who are, from now on, outlaws. It produces tangible effects: law becomes the legal uniform which makes it possible to literally imprison those who place themselves out of the sphere of civilization. It is a penal, if not a police, vision of the world that triumphs. It is hardly surprising, since the West, and in particular the United States, has never been as powerful, going as far as being able to regard themselves as "the world police".
© Hirondelle News Agency