IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Expanding the scope of post-conflict justice: Individual, state and societal responsibility for mass atrocity

Listed author(s):
  • Jelena Subotic

    (Department of Political Science, Georgia State University,

Registered author(s):

    Over the past two decades, a new international regime of individual criminal accountability has emerged as a dominant regulatory mechanism to address gross human rights violations. At the same time, states are still pursuing claims against each other for human rights abuses in international courts. These two concepts of responsibility — individual and state — are not only fundamentally at odds with one another; they also exclude the third, critical aspect of political accountability — societal responsibility for past violence. This triple accountability — of individual perpetrators who committed the crimes, of the state that hired them to implement the practices, and of society that supported or tacitly approved repressive state policies — is a complex political condition that the current transitional justice framework is ill equipped to deal with. Individualization of accountability serves the retributive purpose of justice, but it is woefully inadequate to address the collective political ideologies that made such heinous crimes possible in the first place. Domestic elites can be enthusiastic supporters of individual human rights trials — not because they want to bring about justice, but because they want to shield the state and society from complicity in past crimes. To address this paradox, this article presents a new framework of post-conflict accountability that includes individual, state, and societal responsibility for human rights violations. The framework is then applied to the case of Serbian responsibility for war crimes committed in Bosnia.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Peace Research Institute Oslo in its journal Journal of Peace Research.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 157-169

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:157-169
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:157-169. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.