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21 / 06 / 2004
Judge Richard Goldstone: “Im an optimist and believe that it is possible to apply international justice”

Former member South Africa’s Constitutional Court, Richard Goldstone, opened the dialogue on International Justice, which, over the next two days, will deal with the purpose and implementation of international justice

The former member of South African’s Constitutional Court, Richard Goldstone, took part in the opening session of the dialogue “International Justice.” He stated that he is optimistic about that “international justice can be applied in future. It is civil society that will change things and I am very optimistic about this, thought we do also need to be realistic to avoid the advances made in international justice from being nullified.” Goldstone stated that “after the International Penal Tribunal was created in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the attack on civilians and collateral damage is taken into account.”

Anne Marie Slaughter, the dean of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University de Princeton, spoke of the latest steps being taken in the filed of international justice. She explained that it is important to “integrate international justice in the security of States and people; we need to improve governments’ ability to act on an international level and allow people to help others.” Slaughter spoke of individualizing international laws that are drawn up to be applied not only to the way States behave, but also individuals, including NGOs, in creating international laws and monitoring states to ensure they comply with them, as well as integrating international law into state laws.

Slaughter stated that “if the United States were members of an International Penal Tribunal, the Iraq tortures controversy would be pursued incessantly.” According to Slaughter, the current situation in Sudan “requires intervention. Even if the intervention is illegal, it would be legitimate. We are hypocrites if we do not take action.”

The coordinator of the attorney’s office for the UN’s International Penal Tribunal in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Cecile Aptel, explained that “in terms of international justice, one of the most important issues is the tension between the state’s sovereignty and the international organization—the International Penal Tribunal. That is why it is important for other states to get involved.”

The assistant to the Secretary General of the UN and vice-chancellor of the United Nationals University, Ramesh Thakur, explained that “state sovereignty is responsible for the safety of citizens and has responsibility towards the international community.” This means that if the state does not comply, it is the international community’s responsibility. Thakur explained that “the justifications for action on the part of the international community in cases of massacre and/or ethnic cleansing have been limited, thus enabling international consensus on whether or not to intervene.” Ramesh Thakur, explained that intervention must be accompanied by prevention and reconstruction. Thakur explained that “we have to forget about intervention; our responsibility is comprehensive protection of national sovereignty and human security. The state must protect citizens, though citizens are also responsible.”

Christine Chinkin, international law professor at the center for human rights studies of the London School of Economics, stated that “crimes against women have finally been acknowledged within international justice.” This change has come about thanks to four factors: the CNN factor, the fact that NGOs have defended women’s rights on a world-wide scale, the creation of the Tribunal Penal of Yugoslavia and the inclusion of a manager at the International Penal Tribunal office. According to Chinkin, “violence against women in war goes beyond attacks against the civil population and war crimes, it should also be considered a crime against humanity.”