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  • Setting the Stage: The Justice Cascade and Darfur

    Joachim J. Savelsberg

    Chapter from the book: Savelsberg, J. 2015. Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur.


    This chapter discusses responses to the Darfur conflict as part of what Kathryn Sikkink has called the “justice cascade,” the replacement of impunity by the pursuit of individual criminal accountability against perpetrators of grave human rights violations. The driving forces are international organizations and human rights NGOs. The case of Darfur thus provides insights into the strengths and limits of the justice cascade. International Criminal Court (ICC) charges, reaching up to Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, produced representations of the Darfur conflict within the crime frame. A report by the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (ICID) and the ICC’s indictments depicted powerful political actors as criminal perpetrators. Simultaneously, the judicial account illustrates the narrative constraints of criminal law. While the ICID was mindful of the social and political conditions of the conflict, it marginalized such insights in a “background” section. In the logic of criminal law, mass violence is attributed to a few individuals. Structural conditions and organizational context are not reflected in the judicial field’s representation of mass violence.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Savelsberg, J. 2015. Setting the Stage: The Justice Cascade and Darfur. In: Savelsberg, J, Representing Mass Violence. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.4.b

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Aug. 27, 2015