The Foreign Service Journal, April 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2021 79 Consequences of the Threat of Prosecution The Justice Dilemma: Leaders and Exile in an Era of Accountability Daniel Krcmaric, Cornell University Press, 2020, $39.95/hardcover, e-book available, 240 pages. Reviewed by Joyce E. Leader Preventing conflicts from escalating into war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide has preoccupied policymakers, practitioners and researchers especially since the horrific genocides in Srebrenica and Rwanda in the early 1990s. Consider- able soul-searching soon after—within governments, international organizations and nongovernmental aid groups—led to new thinking about how to respond more effectively in future situations of conflict likely to escalate into mass atrocities. One area of new thinking ushered in a system of international justice aimed at worldwide accountability for perpetra- tors of atrocity crimes. International laws criminalized atrocities, and new institu- tions were created with global authority to adjudicate such crimes. The United Nations set up tribunals to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The intergovernmental Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court. Under these statutes, many former leaders are now serving long prison sentences. Daniel Krcmaric, a political science professor at Northwestern University, predicates his scholarly work, The Justice Dilemma , on his observation that the post-1998 “era of accountability” marked a sharp departure from the pre-1998 “era of impunity.” He asks whether this new inter- national justice regime has, as its supporters intended, deterred atrocity crimes and influenced the duration of conflicts. To answer these ques- tions, Krcmaric examines decisions made by “culpable” leaders—those with a his- tory of responsibility for atrocity crimes— who were faced with judicial accountabil- ity instead of a comfortable life in exile. Krcmaric takes the reader through his research process that centers on three hypotheses about choices expected of cul- pable leaders in relation to exile, conflict duration and the onset of mass atrocity. He uses both a statistical analysis and a case study to examine each hypothesis. The former involves extensive back- ground research (available online) to arrive at the charts and tables included in the book. For the latter, he reviews deci- sions made by Charles Taylor of Liberia (exile), Muammar Gaddafi of Libya (con- flict duration) and Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso (mass atrocity onset). Krcmaric concludes that his research supports each of his hypotheses: First, the threat of international justice makes the exile option less attractive to culpable leaders in the era of accountability than in the era of impunity. Second, culpable leaders of civil conflicts who see no safe exile option are more likely to keep fight- ing to the end. And third, a culpable leader is more likely to avoid initiating atrocities if it might enhance chances of a safe exile. Krcmaric’s findings also reveal what he calls the “justice dilemma.” He shows that using international justice to achieve accountability and deter mass atroci- ties (a positive result) is likely to produce prolonged conflict when leaders choose to continue fighting rather than risk facing international justice (a negative outcome). Krcmaric asks whether policymakers are aware of this contradiction and how it might affect their policy choices. Krcmaric’s justice dilemma usefully alerts policymakers to what I would call an unintended, negative consequence of a well-intentioned policy. Policymakers who rely on international justice as an atrocity-prevention tool can anticipate prolonged, though possibly less violent, civil conflicts, as foreshadowed by the justice dilemma Krcmaric identifies. Accountability and fewer mass killings resulting from international justice should not need to be sacrificed because of the risk of a negative downside. Instead, com- plementary conflict-prevention policies need to be developed to address and hold in check the unintended consequences— prolonged civil conflicts—of well-inten- tioned international justice policies. In my book, FromHope to Horror , on the origins of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, I write: “Finding effective ways to prevent mass atrocities and genocide is the unfinished business of our time.” Dan- iel Krcmaric’s book, a rigorous analysis of the effectiveness of international justice on curbing mass atrocities and genocide, is a welcome addition to academic litera- ture on this issue. n Ambassador (ret.) Joyce E. Leader served as deputy chief of mission in Rwanda from 1991 to 1994 and, during two months in 1993, was a U.S. observer to the Rwanda peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, among many assignments during a 21-year Foreign Service career. Her book, FromHope to Horror: Diplomacy and the Making of the Rwanda Genocide (Potomac Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, 2020), traces the political wrangling, human rights abuses, and ever- escalating violence of a three-way struggle for control of democratization and peacemaking among Rwanda’s ethnic and regional factions.