Why war crimes must be punished: understanding the importance of accountability

Human rights shape international law, and war crimes are a violation of these laws. When individuals or groups commit such crimes, they harm not only the direct victims but also the global community as a whole. The pursuit of justice and accountability for war crimes is therefore essential for promoting peace, preventing future atrocities, upholding human rights, and providing restitution and reparation for victims.

Accountability in War Crimes

Accountability for war crimes means ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions, and that they face the consequences of their crimes. Successful litigation processes against war criminals serve as a warning to others, and discourage them from committing similar heinous acts. The International Criminal Court (ICC) was created for just this purpose: to prosecute those who commit war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

Prevention of Future Atrocities

Investigating and punishing individuals who commit war crimes is a key part of preventing similar atrocities from happening in the future. Knowing that they will not be held accountable for their actions emboldens potential perpetrators. By holding people accountable, we send a clear message that such crimes will not be tolerated.

Upholding Human Rights

War crimes are a severe violation of human rights, and as such, accountability for these crimes is vital to protecting human rights. Such acts affect not only the individuals directly involved, but also the broader community in which they occur. For instance, the use of chemical weapons during war poses a significant risk to human life and health, as well as to the natural environment.

Restitution and Reparations for Victims

Victims of war crimes suffer severe damage. They suffer losses and damages that range from psychological trauma to permanent physical disability and the loss of loved ones. Therefore, restitution and reparation for victims must be a top priority. These processes include compensating for harm suffered, providing psychosocial support for victims and communities, and restoring dignity and social reintegration.

Compensation for Harm Suffered

  • Compensation should be granted to a victim or the victim's family.
  • Compensation should cover the victim's medical and transport expenses.
  • Compensation should also cover the loss of property and work-related damages.

Psychological Support for Victims and Communities

  • Psychological care for victims and communities should be available and accessible at all times.
  • Victims and communities affected must receive support to help them overcome the emotional and psychological damage endured, such as counseling, meditation, trauma healing sessions, and therapy.

Restoration of Dignity and Social Reintegration

  • Efforts must be made to reintegrate victims into society and their respective communities through local and national reintegration programs.
  • Victims must be afforded a dignified life by providing them with access to schools, job opportunities, and income-generating activities. Local communities should also be provided with assistance to support the reintegration of victims.

International Justice and Cooperation

Accountability for war crimes is not the responsibility of one nation alone. It is the collective responsibility of the international community. In this regard, international justice and cooperation are vital, and it is important that nations work together to bring perpetrators to justice. The ICC's mandate is an excellent example of this collective effort to fight against impunity and maintain justice.

Accountability for war crimes is paramount. It helps to prevent future atrocities and upholds human rights. Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done. It is our collective responsibility as individuals, communities, nations and the global community to ensure that those responsible for war crimes and their atrocities are held accountable.