The future of international criminal evidence in new wars ? : the evolution of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA)
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Journal of genocide research, Vol. 20, no. 3, 2018, p. 392-411
This article explores the intellectual formation of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA). It illuminates how the development of the CIJA was an attempt by state and non-state actors to affect the course of international criminal justice in Syria and Iraq. First, this article argues that the CIJA was the result of four factors: the UK Foreign Office’s desire to support human rights activists in Syria; lessons learned from previous international criminal tribunals; attempts by non-state legal practitioners to invent new ways to overcome the gaps and limitations of the international criminal justice system; and the willingness of Syrian civil society to risk their lives and use the law to hold those responsible for mass atrocities to account. Second, the article argues that as non-state actors with a focus on evidence management, the CIJA may represent an innovative approach to investigating mass atrocities, particularly for activists and civil society actors who wish to play a role in evidence management in new wars. Lastly, it shows how the CIJA may work in parallel with international mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other inter-state actors, to collect evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in new wars, particularly when the ICC is unable to do so. This study combines qualitative research with empirical analysis and draws on a range of primary and secondary sources, including a number of interviews conducted with CIJA personnel, former ICC practitioners, and other practitioners in international criminal law.