Cover image for Prosecuting war crimes and genocide : the twentieth-century experience
Prosecuting war crimes and genocide : the twentieth-century experience
Ball, Howard, 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KZ6310 .B35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The "ethnic cleansing" that has gripped the Balkans for much of this decade is but another chapter in the long history of man's inhumanity to man. Hopeful but unflinching in the face of such realities, Howard Ball's book focuses on international efforts to punish perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes. Combining history, politics, and critical analysis, he revisits the killing fields of Cambodia, documents the three-month Hutu "machete genocide" of about 800,000 Tutsi villagers in Rwanda, and casts recent headlines from Kosovo in the light of these other conflicts.

Beginning with the 1899 Geneva Accords and the Armenian genocide of World War I, Ball traces efforts to create an institution to judge, punish, and ultimately deter such atrocities-particularly since World War II, since which there have been fourteen cases of genocide. He shows how international military tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo set important precedents for international criminal justice, tells what the international community learned from its failure to stop Pol Pot in Cambodia, and describes the ad hoc tribunals convened to address genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda. He then focuses on the establishment of the International Criminal Court with the Treaty of Rome in 1998 and assesses its probable future.

The book also analyzes the reluctance of the United States to sanction the ICC, tracing longstanding U.S. reluctance to grant criminal justice jurisdiction to an international prosecutor. Ball examines questions of national sovereignty versus international law and reminds us that although most Americans consider such horrors to be problems of other countries, these are in fact countries in which many of our own citizens have their roots.

With its unique focus on the ICC, Prosecuting War Crimes and Genocide is a work of both synthesis and advocacy that combines history and current events to make us more aware of the racist fervor with which these brutalities are carried out, more alert to the euphemisms in which they are cloaked. It forces us to ask not only whether the killing will stop, but whether humanity can prevent future genocides.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This study examines major 20th-century efforts to punish perpetrators of genocide and other major war crimes. Ball (Univ. of Vermont) argues that governments must not tolerate impunity since a lasting peace can be achieved only if injustice is punished. States should of course prosecute their own officials for genocide, torture, and other international crimes, but global society should also do so through international tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Ball explores five case studies on genocide and war crimes: European war crimes of World War II (the Nuremberg Tribunal), Asian war crimes of World War II (the Tokyo Tribunal), the 1975-79 Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge, the genocide and war crimes of the 1992-95 Balkans War, and the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The book's last two chapters examine the proposed international criminal court (the 1998 ICC Rome Convention) and assess potential problems and prospects of a more developed international criminal regime. Although this study offers a timely and informative overview of major war crimes and the efforts to prosecute them, it is less effective in explaining how a more robust international criminal system can be institutionalized in the existing anarchic international system. General readers through faculty. M. Amstutz; Wheaton College