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International recognition of victims’ rights

Bassiouni, M. Cherif
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Human Rights Law Review. 6(2): pg. 203-279.

Since its inception, the United Nations has adopted two General Assembly
resolutions dealing with the rights of victims: the 1985 Declaration of
Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power and
the 2006 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and
Reparation forVictims of GrossViolations of International Human Rights
Lawand SeriousViolations of International Humanitarian Law. The focus
of the former was on victims of domestic crimes, while that of the latter is
on victims of international crimes; more particularly, gross violations of
international human rights law and serious violations of international
humanitarian law. The 2006 Principles are, for all practical purposes, an
international bill of rights of victims.Their adoption has been hard-fought,
but their implementation both at the national and international levels is
sure to still face many obstacles. Parallel to this historic development
have been decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as provisions in the statute
of the International Criminal Court (ICC), giving standing to victims
in ICC proceedings, but also certain rights of compensation.These parallel
developments, as well as others within domestic legal systems, evidence a
wide movement towards the recognition of the rights of victims of crime,
whether domestic or international, or gross violations of human rights.
This article re-traces the historic origin of victims’ rights in domestic and
international legal systems, focusing particularly on the adoption of the
two international instruments mentioned above, and more particularly
on the negotiating history of the 2006 Principles. A detailed commentary
of these Principles constitutes the centerpiece of this article.


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