[TimorLesteStudies] New Article: Richard Burchill-From East Timor to Timor-Leste: A Demonstration of the Limits of International Law in the Pursuit of Justice

Bu V.E. Wilson bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Sat Feb 28 20:53:21 EST 2009

Burchill, Richard,From East Timor to Timor-Leste: A Demonstration of the Limits of International Law in the Pursuit of Justice(February 15, 2009). THE LEGAL REGIME OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF PROF. IGOR BLISHENKO, Jose Doria, Hans-Peter Gasser and Cherif Bassiouni, eds., pp. 255-296, Brill Publishing, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1343420

  The creation of the International Criminal Court and the widespread use of ad-hoc criminal tribunals have demonstrated a commitment to international criminal justice. In this commitment the ending of impunity for those responsible for the violation of serious crimes in international law has been seen as the main objective and success for international criminal justice. This paper demonstrates how the commitment to international criminal justice through the ending of impunity is not all that it seems. In the situation of East Timor/Timor Leste the violations of serious international crimes was widespread and well documented; yet the ability of the international system to ensure those responsible were brought to justice was heavily hindered by considerations of power politics. This case demonstrates that the realisation of international criminal justice through the actual enforcement and application of international criminal law is first and foremost a struggle of politics rather than a dispute about law. 

 Keywords:  East Timor, international criminal justice, international organisations, international law  

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