Netherlands: war tribunals.

In my last semester of college, I took a terrific class called Ethics & Justice in International Affairs. It was a depressing class, really, that talked about atrocities committed by human beings: crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes.

So we talked of the Nuremberg Trials, the Cambodia Tribunals. and of Rwanda.

And, of course, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Low and behold, our conference at the World Forum was across from the ICTY. I didn’t know until I asked the receptionist what that meek but purposeful-looking building was. Ignorant American I am.


After the second day of the conference on Saturday, October 26, my colleagues and I rented bikes and rode around parts of the city. We stopped by the Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

An incredible building. Idealism built upon realism.

The World Peace Flame. All the rocks surrounding the monument represents a country.

The realist in me wonders… the flame remains lit while we have not yet achieved peace. A great ideal, one I wish would come true, but a bit too ambitious in this lifetime.

It’s really amazing. We are capable of so much destruction, yet construct beautiful symbols out of such devastation. Many human rights activists argue that international courts are flawed on multiple levels: that the courts are constructed using an unnecessary amount of money (hundreds of millions of dollars) as a display to the world.

That these courts were inherently flawed. After the reign of Nazi German, soldiers were no longer able to blame their actions based on the orders of their superiors. The courts ruled that every man has the ability to disregard orders. Yet, international courts prosecute key individuals rather than groups or countries.

Every soldier, officer, and patriot is fighting for their country. Every side commits brutal acts. Yet, it’s only the losers who are prosecuted, even though they were serving their country like the winners.

I can spout off liberal psychobabble for days, courtesy of Berkeley professors, but you get the point. We’re all only human.

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