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Conceptualizing Access to Justice and Victims’ Rights in International Sentencing

Henham, Ralph
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Social & Legal Studies. 13(1): 27-55.

The purpose of this article is to confront some of the theoretical and conceptual difficulties in understanding the meaning and relevance of notions of access to justice and rights for victims in the context of international sentencing. In particular, it suggests the need for such conceptualizations to engage with the nature of international sentencing process as a transformative mechanism where fact and value are negotiated to correspond with the moral ideologies of the powerful. It is argued that for international penality to progress beyond partisan ideology, rhetorical symbolism and the dynamics of retribution and vindictiveness require us to recognize and understand how moral values and moral action are linked through process and the significance of this for the legitimacy of punishment. For victims and victim communities in international conflict this means conceiving of participation and rights as processual reality and a recognition that any constructive engagement with notions of truth and justice must be grounded in context. Author’s abstract.


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