Double Standards: International Criminal Law and the West

Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher (TOAEP), May 2015

By Wolfgang Kaleck

International criminal justice purports to be universal, but in reality it often operates in a politically selective manner. To date hardly any of those most responsible for international crimes committed by Western states – such as the torture at Guantánamo or international crimes committed in the course of the suppression of rebellions against colonial rule – have faced trial. In his book Kaleck assesses the practice of international criminal law to date and one of its greatest weaknesses. Against the backdrop of this criticism, the book advocates a truly universal practice of international criminal law, holding even the most powerful actors accountable for their crimes.
 
Kaleck also tells the stories of survivors of human rights violations and the human rights organizations that struggle for universal accountability for international crimes. He argues that the proponents of universal criminal justice must actively address existing double standards, as “it will not be possible to speak of a universal criminal justice system with equal rights and access to justice for all until the instigators and organizers of Guantánamo and of the atrocities in Chechnya and Tibet are held accountable for their actions.”

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