Source: (2009) Research Brief. June. New York: Center for Transitional Justice.

International and hybrid jurisdictions have been created in response to the commission of heinous international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including mass rape. This article shows that, by their legal definitions, genocide and crimes against humanity are linked to identity, as their core constitutive elements require targeting specific human groups on discriminatory grounds. In the context of the perpetration of such crimes, the victims’ identity is primarily defined by others, usually those who conceive, orchestrate or commit the crimes, namely the perpetrators and the propaganda machinery deployed to create or reinforce identity divisions. For instance, to establish a crime of genocide, it does not matter whether or not victims value the identity ascribed to them or feel part of such an identity-based group; instead, what matters is that it is conceived as such in the perpetrators’ minds, who then target individuals on the basis of this perceived identity. Thus, generally, for criminal accountability, there is a clear distinction between “objective” and “subjective” identity, and only the former matters. This article concentrates on the international criminal tribunals established by the United Nations for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and on the War Crimes Chamber in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. (excerpt)