FOR HUMANITY by Richard J. Goldstone


Reflections of a War Crimes Investigator
Email this review


South African judge Goldstone, drawing on his experiences investigating the causes of political unrest during South Africa’s transition to democracy and as chief prosecutor of Yugoslavian and Rwandan war crimes, offers a cogent memoir of those times as well as a brief for supporting an international criminal court.

Goldstone’s accounts (based on the Castle Lectures he delivered at Yale in 1997 and 1998) form an argument for the punishment of those who commit crimes against humanity in times of war or oppression. As such they reflect the legal and moral case for such prosecutions, but they scant the political and military problems of making an international criminal court universally acceptable and effective. After a brief sketch of his background and his anti-apartheid credentials, the author goes on to describe his work as head of the Goldstone Commission on Public Violence and Intimidation. It was a position that brought him both death-threats and international attention: the latter led to his subsequent appointments as a war-crimes investigator. As head of the Commission, he successfully investigated the sources of violence (specifically, the members of a covert police force) that threatened to destabilize South Africa during its move to democracy. In 1994 he took up his position as Chief Prosecutor of the Yugoslav tribunal at The Hague. While noting that, prior to WWII, nations (not individuals) were the subjects of international law, he goes on to describe his experiences with the tribunal; his not-always-easy relations with the UN; the indictments of Karazdic and Mladic that he suggests may have helped the Dayton Accords; and his satisfaction, when he moved on to Rwanda, that the tribunal handed down in 1998 the first conviction for systematic rape as a war crime.

Thoughtful reportage and analysis from a distinguished jurist and witness of the prosecution.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2000
ISBN: 0-300-08205-3
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000


NonfictionTHE JUSTICE CASCADE by Kathryn Sikkink
by Kathryn Sikkink