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VII - Providing Reparation in Situations of Mass Victimization: Key Challenges Involved

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 November 2022

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Summary

SETTING A TREND TOWARDS REPARATIVE JUSTICE

Over the past century, millions of civilians have fallen victim to acts of violence during conflict. The scale of violence against civilians has been far greater in the previous century than ever before. This has not only led to a dramatic increase in the numbers of civilian casualties of war during the 20th century, but also to a likewise dramatic increase in the proportion of civilian casualties as opposed to military casualties: From about 14% in World War I over 67% in World War II, to 90% by the end of the last century (Levi & Sider 1997). Civilians, notably women and children, are increasingly targeted. conflicts involving child soldiers, widespread attacks on civilian populations, destruction and looting of civilian residences and institutions, abductions, the use of rape as an instrument of warfare, and massive deportations and ethnic cleansing have become common practices.

According to the UNHCR's annual ‘Global Trends’ report of June 2010, at the end of 2009, the number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 43.3 million, the highest number since the mid-nineties. The total includes 15.2 million refugees and asylum seekers and 27.1 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries.

One particular aspect of addressing the terrible consequences of mass victimization is found in providing reparation to victims. Mass atrocities cause large scale sufferings inflicted on individual human persons, collectivities and entire populations. More oft en than not victims of mass atrocities are ignored.

Many societies do not have a genuine interest in the fate of victims; there is great reluctance to face and acknowledge cruelties that occurred and a sense prevails of irreparable harm anyway. In addition, societies trying to overcome a period of conflict show several profound shortcomings, both in the legal and social order that also affect proper reparation Afterwards. Tomuschat singles out four main general areas (Tomuschat 2008, 54). First, inadequate laws, restrictions in legal scope and content relating to the committed crimes, impediments in getting access to justice and restrictive attitudes of courts are some of the legal obstacles. Second, oft en societies face political obstacles mainly from authorities and certain groups in society unwilling to recognise that wrongs were committed.

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Publisher: Intersentia
Print publication year: 2011

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