Memorialization: An International Law Strategy

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Anja Matwijkiw
Bronik Matwijkiw


This article presents the philosophical context for the accountability-securing strategy which post-conflict justice experts refer to in terms of “memorialization.” More precisely, the two authors concentrate on a document the significance of which has already gained momentum within the realm of international law, namely The Chicago Principles on Post-Conflict Justice (2007). After an account of the general premises, which can be treated as ethics derivatives, the authors focus attention on the strategy of memorialization while accommodating the progressive legal doctrine that underpins it. However, concerning the components that the document lists as integral aspects of memorialization, these do not amount to a fully developed theory of public memory. Given that elaborate and exhaustive conceptualization was not a project or a goal which the drafters originally had in mind, the assessment of The Chicago Principles on Post-Conflict Justice has to be shifted to memorialization as an alternative to prosecution and punishment under international law, to memorialization as a non-strict strategy. As such, it forms part of a holistic approach to justice. In the course of the discussion of the assumptions that are made and the implications that follow from these, it will become clear that whatever else can be said, one conclusion stands: memorialization is a bold and thought-provoking step.


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