LAW, POLITICS AND THE LIMITS OF PROSECUTING MASS ATROCITY
Author: Damien Rogers
Published by. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2018, 244pp, US$112.04.
This book is a substantial addition to the growing corpus of political and legal analyses of international criminal justice and the courts that administer it. It is also an extended application of a growing school of analysis, one that might variously be described as post-positivist, critical or constructivist.
The author, a senior lecturer at Massey University, begins by identifying the five principal international criminal courts that have been set up since the Second World War. These are the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials set up by the victorious powers to try Nazis and Japanese militarists in 1945-46, the international criminal tribunals set up in 1993 and 1994 to try perpetrators of mass atrocities in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court that came into operation in 2002. Chapters devoted to each provide a wealth of detail on their respective mandates, indictments and prosecutorial processes, building on, extending and up-dating the prior work of Gerry Simpson, Law, War and Crime (2007), Luc Reydams et al (eds), International Prosecutors (2012) and Christine Schwoebel-Patel, Critical Approaches to International Law (2014).
The chapter on Warrants, Summonses and Opening Statements is especially rich in detail and illuminates aspects of the operation of courts, prosecutors and trials seldom visible in casual accounts. Also insightful is the identification of the emergence of a cohort of professional prosecutors as 'political actors serving in the interests of economic liberalisation'.
Rogers is less interested in analysing or evaluating the outcomes of the trials than in uncovering the assumptions and narratives embedded in their foundation documents, formal indictments and prosecutors' statements. Stepping back from the events, defendants and verdicts of the trials, Rogers frames the trials as manifestations of world views projected by the governments that conceived, authorised, funded and enforced the trials. He adopts a lens close to that of World Systems Theory, of hierarchical cores and peripheries, of dominance and subordination, and through that lens sees each trial as an assertion of the values of its powerful creators, the 'vanguard actor'. His term 'hegemonic justice' adds sophistication to the familiar critique of Victor's justice'.
Moreover, Rogers sees...