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Amnesty, Human Rights and Political Transitions: Bridging the Peace and Justice Divide (Studies in International Law) Hardcover – 10 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 634 pages
  • Publisher: Hart Publishing; 01 edition (10 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841137715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841137711
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 832,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


[Mallinder]..supplies a tour de force of the international law, national law, local and customary law of amnesty. Doctrinal scholars will find much of value in the footnotes, just as empirical researchers of peacebuilding will learn much, as I did, from the juxtaposition of implications from strategic cases of a great variety of nations interwoven with the empirics of the Amnesty Law Database. I found particularly helpful the legal analysis of amnesty exclusions for those 'most responsible' for war crimes, a doctrine emerging as increasingly important internationally and nationally...The book and the database are both pathbreaking contributions that I will rely on in my future research on peacebuilding. This is sophisticated scholarship that others will also find an invaluable resource. John Braithwaite Punishment and Society Vol 11 (2) Why is it worth spending our time in reading this extraordinary essay? Mallinder has written an excellent handbook on the issue of amnesty. Indeed, she presents a comprehensive and original view of transitional justice and amnesty...We must be grateful for the excellent bibliography and for the information in the three appendices: one presents a remarkable list of anmensty processes, a second one contains much information in relation to the international court system, and the last one concerns a guide of provisions for a universal jurisdiction legislation. Juan Jesus Mora Molina The Law & Politics Book Review Vol 19 No 4, April 2009 The sheer volume of Mallinder's research onto 506 amnesty processes has to be admired. Most useful are the extensive footnotes giving literature searches and multi-lingual case studies and legislations of countries... This means that the book can be adopted on a number of different levels, such as criminology and victimology, international law or war and peace studies... This magnificent book is not just a tour de force in the study of international law but can be useful for the training of negotiators. The book provides a wealth of factual background for those who may wish to work for international voluntary organizations such as VSO, the UN or UNICEF. Ursula Smartt Criminal Law & Justice Weekly Volume 173 23 May 2009 This book is an invaluable contribution to this area of research as it analyzes the trends that can be discerned from the multitude of amnesty processes. Such examination is a critical and useful study and can provide lessons for scholars but also for states that may wish to adopt an amnesty...While studies in the past have examined amnesties from a thematic or country context the value of this research is its breadth in its examination of amnesties all around the world...This book is original. It is a substantial piece of work. It brings together a lot of information from disparate sources and clearly and systematically interprets that material. The work gives understanding to processes of law and amnesty in a multitude of settings. The breadth of materials consulted outside of the laws and cases are impressive. The bibliography stretches to 134 pages. It is a must read for everyone interested in the issues relating to transitional justice, human rights and humanitarian law as well as international and domestic criminal justice. Jeremy Sarkin Criminal Law Forum (2009) 20:389-394 an excellent and long-awaited contribution to the study of national amnesty laws and practices... The book is an essential read for those concerned with transitional justice and international criminal law. Sarah Williams British Institute of International and Comparative Law The Edinburgh Law Review Vol 13 2009 [Mallinder] illluminates a hitherto little understood area of law, relying upon a volume of international source material and using a level of empirical research seldom found in legal writing. Colin Murray International Criminal Law Review Volume 9, 2009


Amnesty laws are political tools used since ancient times by states wishing to quell dissent, introduce reforms, or achieve peaceful relationships with their enemies. In recent years, they have become contentious due to a perception that they violate international law, particularly the rights of victims, and contribute to further violence. This view is disputed by political negotiators who often argue that amnesty is a necessary price to pay in order to achieve a stable, peaceful, and equitable system of government. This book aims to investigate whether an amnesty necessarily entails a violation of a state's international obligations, or whether an amnesty, accompanied by alternative justice mechanisms, can in fact contribute positively to both peace and justice.This study began by constructing an extensive Amnesty Law Database that contains information on 421 amnesty processes in 127 countries introduced since the Second World War. The database and chapter structure were designed to correspond with the key aspects of an amnesty: why it was introduced, who benefited from its protection, which crimes it covered, and whether it was conditional.

In assessing conditional amnesties, related transitional justice processes such as selective prosecutions, truth commissions, community-based justice mechanisms, lustration, and reparations programmes were considered. Subsequently, the jurisprudence relating to amnesty from national courts, international tribunals, and courts in third states was addressed.The information gathered revealed considerable disparity in state practice relating to amnesties, with some aiming to provide victims with a remedy, and others seeking to create complete impunity for perpetrators. To date, few legal trends relating to amnesty laws are emerging, although it appears that amnesties offering blanket, unconditional immunity for state agents have declined. Overall, amnesties have increased in popularity since the 1990s and consequently, rather than trying to dissuade states from using this tool of transitional justice, this book argues that international actors should instead work to limit the more negative forms of amnesty by encouraging states to make them conditional and to introduce complementary programmes to repair the harm and prevent a repetition of the crimes.

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