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GLBL 812 01 (22813)  
Criminal Law and Mass Atrocity: Beliefs, Promises, and Limits
Michael Reed Hurtado
Th 1.30-3.20 RKZ 06
Spring 2014 
 
In this seminar we explore the potential and the limitations of criminal law in addressing mass atrocity. Establishment of individual responsibility and punishment is generally deemed a crucial response in the aftermath of gross violations; however, national experiences pose many questions concerning its value. The course focuses on how different countries, particularly but not exclusively in Latin America, have tackled or circumvented their international obligations in relation to criminal investigation and punishment of mass atrocity. What do victims and other social groups want to achieve through punishment; and can such goals be achieved? Can criminal law deliver truth and justice in the face of mass atrocity? International human rights law demands punishment and, generally, condemns amnesties; but are these standards practical in the aftermath of mass violence? Can punishment complement a peace deal? What social goals are in fact accomplished by punishing certain perpetrators? Does forgiveness play a role in a society that has the potential to punish? Is the international model of criminal justice a model to follow? We examine these issues through the lenses of law (national and international), national politics, international relations, and culture. Theoretical and empirical course materials draw on international law, comparative law, criminology, sociology, psychology, and political science (the course does not assume legal training). Participants write a research paper on a topic developed over the course of the class.