by Wanja Munaita, Kenya/Canada
“To bring peace through justice” This was a statement made by a participant in the documentary War Don Don, which we watched at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Is that possible in our world where others are making statements such as no peace without justice? This is not our first experience walking into the international justice courts/tribunals as The Hague is the city that houses most of them. The burning question in many of our minds is what is justice? Not a surprise question at this point in time having been through the ICC, the ICTY, SCSL and listened to experts from various backgrounds who spent years in countries recovering from conflict as well as countries experiencing conflict.
The same question was asked by the first Chief Prosecutor of the SCSL David Crane “is the justice we seek at the international level, the justice they want?” Many have raised the issue of the courts claiming that they are not acting in the interest of African States. This could also be looked at from another angle, that African leadership is particularly not upholding human rights is the sole reason for the indictments. Our time through this symposium is helping shape our ideas as well our understanding in terms of how the International Justice bodies operate. The visit to SOSL allowed us to learn how justice was taken to the people of Sierra Leone and how that helped by enabling the people to “participate” in the trial, which were broadcast for the general public.
We have learned of stabilization, and re-establishing everything from rule of law, to economies, and ensuring social well-being of citizens is in place. Each day has left me with more questions yet offered the information that is taking me to a place where I appreciate these international bodies deeper. Above all, the value of learning from those who have operated within these international legal systems and in conflict/post conflict situations is invaluable.