Washington, D.C. — Since the end of the Cold War, the world’s major powers have taken an increasing interest in holding political authorities accountable for war crimes and other human rights abuses. This movement to end impunity has achieved some remarkable results, including the prosecution of key perpetrators of violence against civilians in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and the creation of an International Criminal Court, or ICC, with jurisdiction over more than 120 countries. Yet it has also ignored other, more subtle—but no less devastating—forms of impunity that are rooted in economics rather than politics or ideology.
The Center for American Progress has issued a report today examining why the United States and other international actors should push for greater accountability for crimes committed in the pursuit of illicit wealth.
“The purpose of international criminal justice is to hold accountable those who would otherwise face no consequences for committing heinous acts,” said Trevor Sutton, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the report. “While great strides have been made in ending impunity for human rights abuses committed during armed conflict, other kinds of systemic violence against civilians have gone mostly unaddressed. The pernicious intersection of organized crime, weak governance, and political corruption has allowed powerful actors to exploit, enslave, and terrorize innocent people in countries across the world. If the international community is serious about ending suffering and righting wrongs, it should do more to ensure these crimes are investigated and punished.”
The report argues that there is no moral or strategic reason to distinguish between crimes that are committed for political or military reasons, and those that have economic motives. Both are worthy of attention on the international stage, and both require the international community to step in where domestic justice systems are unable or unwilling to hold those in power accountable.
Click here to read the report.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.7141.