The pursuit of justice in the twentieth century
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The pursuit of justice in the twentieth century

The Pursuit of Justice in the Twentieth Century

The pursuit of justice in the twentieth century1

The Pursuit of Justice in the Twentieth Century

  • Early in the century, in the wake of the First World War, the Paris Peace Conference was convened to end the war and force Germany to make reparations to the allied powers. Along with this goal, the long term preservation of peace, the fostering of prosperity and the pursuit of justice were the stated aims of President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points. The points relevant to the pursuit of justice are listed below.

  • A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

  • A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

  • Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

The pursuit of justice in the twentieth century is full of successes and failures

The Pursuit of Justice in the Twentieth Century is full of successes and failures.



  • The Nuremburg War Crimes Trials.

  • The International Court of Justice (UN for state actors).

  • The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

  • The Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

  • The International Criminal Court.

  • East Timor independence.

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • The Armenian Genocide

  • The Holocaust

  • The Rwandan Genocide

  • The ongoing conflict in Somalia

  • Sudan

  • Palestine

  • Yugoslavia

  • Viktor Bout, Radovan Karadzic, Henry Kissinger, Joseph Kony, RatkoMladic, Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Taylor, General Wiranto, Augusto Pinochet, FodaySankoh, Ariel Sharon, Omar Al-Bashir, BoscoNtaganda, KaingGuekEav ('Duch'), Bashear Al Asad, .

The pursuit of justice in the twentieth century

You will want to examine these to be able to argue the extent to which they were successes or failures and work them into an argument as to whether we have improved the global justice environment in the twentieth century.

The nuremburg war crimes trial

The Nuremburg War Crimes Trial

  • Were convened at the end of the Second World War to try Germans accused of war crimes including The Holocaust.

  • Nuremberg had been the site of some of the largest Nazi rallies.

  • Many of the worst offenders stood trial first with the lesser criminals facing the court later (1947, 1948)

  • There were mixed opinions as to whether justice was served. In pairs, visit the University of Missouri website, pick an accused, jot down what he was charged with, not his sentence and report back to the class as to whether you believe justice was served given the charges laid.

  • Be prepared to answer whether you think any allied soldiers should have been charged with war crimes.

The international court of justice

The International Court of Justice

  • The Court is the main Judicial organization within the United Nations and its main function is to deal with issues put forward by states against other states and to give legal opinions to the General Assembly and the various subunits of the U.N.

  • When it ruled against the U. S. regarding its war against Nicaragua the Americans switched to adhering to the courts rulings on a case by case basis. A blow to its credibility.

  • Another problem is that any of the five permanent members of the security council may veto the decision of the court giving the impression that the court’s authority is only over smaller, developing nations. Not a truly just situation.

  • The court operates out of the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands

The south african truth and reconciliation commission

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission

  • Very different in style and purpose to war crimes trials, the TRC was set up to assist in the transition from apartheid to a liberal democracy.

  • Victims are allowed to have their stories heard and decisions made about pursuing perpetrators. The primary purpose is to bring the truth about the horrors of apartheid to light.

  • Perpetrators are allowed to tell their story and to request amnesty.

  • Persons from both sides were allowed to appear and give evidence

  • The major criticism is that it did not have a sufficient punitive component to give many of the people who participated a sense that justice had been served.

  • Making reparations and rehabilitating violators was another goal of the Commission.

The ottawa treaty to ban anti personnel mines

The Ottawa Treaty to Ban Anti-personnel mines

  • Just what it sounds like. The problem is that mines are laid during wartime and not removed at the cessation of hostilities.

  • Positively, dozens of countries that had thousands of mines have now been declared mine free.

  • Negatively, the worlds largest producers including the U.S. and Russia are not signatories.

  • Positively they are the most likely to lay mines responsibly (mark and guard) and remove them when they are no longer useful.

  • Negatively, the actual number of mines deployed has gone up since the signing of the treaty.

  • Notable promoters were Lloyd Axworthy and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Land mines are a pervasive problem in former conflict zones for many years after conflict ceases

Land mines are a pervasive problem in former conflict zones for many years after conflict ceases

The international criminal court

The International Criminal Court

  • This is the court that goes after the bad guys (and girls). It is a permanent court formed at the request of the U.N. security council to deal with war criminals on the model established at The Nuremberg Trials. It is however, independent from the United Nations.

  • Some of the largest supporters of the court are Non-Governmental Organizations who supported the birth of the court and send it the information it needs to carry out its responsibilities.

  • The court has had some notable successes along with the threat it poses to those who are indicted and at large or those who are in a position to commit.

  • They also operate out of The Hague, Netherlands.

East timor independence

East Timor independence.

  • A former colony of Portugal and the eastern half of the Indonesian Island of Timor. The other half was a Dutch colony and the island was partitioned in 1914.

  • During the Second World War the Timorese and the Allies fought Japanese imperialism. A harsh Portuguese colonial government was reinstituted after the war.

  • The East Timorese people wanted independence from Indonesia but because their movement was considered communist they had difficulty obtaining U.S. support.

  • Eventually an Australian led United Nations peacekeeping force brought peace to the region and allowed the East Timorese to secede from Indonesia.

  • The conflict saw the death of over 100,000 people through military action, death squads, starvation and police action to quell protests.

The universal declaration of human rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • The document ,which was adopted by the United Nations in December of 1948, contains 30 articles. The motivation for the document was born out of the atrocities and transgressions committed during the Second World War. It was meant to serve as a series of boundaries which civilized nations should not cross even while engaging in hostilities.

  • The champion of The Declaration was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the late president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A brilliant person in her own right as well as a powerful speaker and forceful lobbyist for social causes.

  • John Humphrey, a Canadian, along with Rene Cassin of France wrote and prepared the final document for ratification by the General Assembly.

  • While not even the signatories observe The Declaration strictly in internal or external matters, it serves as a powerful guide and benchmark for any member of the U. N.

  • No one is ever breaking the rules no matter what they do if there are no rules to follow.

The pursuit of justice in the twenty first century challenges going forward

The Pursuit of Justice in the Twenty-First Century:Challenges going forward

  • Consider the model of a successful country with a diverse population. What do they do that works?

  • Increasing participation and compliance with United Nations initiatives and organizations.

  • Universal participation, enforcement and compliance with international treaties.

  • Reduce wealth disparity

  • Reduce conflict

  • A world constitution that reduces the sovereignty of nations and their ability to oppress internally.

  • Is it always in our best interest to prosecute people accused of war crimes

  • What else?

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