Leuven University Press

Ulrike Capdepón on Human Rights Violations and Criminal Justice

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We asked author Ulrike Capdepon three questions about The Impact of Human Rights Prosecutions and how victims overcome the damage caused by systematic human rights violations.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

For us, editing this volume was a long but very inspiring experience. In the process, we realized, however, that publishing an edited book with many authors in different parts of the world and a variety of disciplines and contexts can be complex and more complicated than writing your own book. As such it involves more consensus, negotiations, openness and teamwork than when working on your own. All in all, it was a great and enriching experience to collaborate with so many different scholars who generously shared their knowledge, expertise and insights with us.

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

We became much more aware of the regionally diverse approaches and country-specific complexities and differences to the prosecution of human rights violations in the case studies of Europe, Latin America, and Africa presented reassembled in this book. The chapters collected in this volume, offer insights into different kinds of prosecutions for human rights violations in post-conflict or post-authoritarian contexts. Taken together, they show, how accountability efforts around the world have had a huge variety of effects and consequences for victims, perpetrators, local politics, and civil society.

3. How do you wish you could change your field of study?

More interdisciplinary as well innovative interregional, transnational and global perspectives would be necessary, not least to allow for international learning effects. Such approaches—especially bringing together perspectives on countries of the global South and North—would help to raise awareness for the existing “double standard” in the application of human rights and international criminal law. Through the analysis of various cases of human rights trials in both the global South and North, we attempt to question the classical paradigm by which most heinous crimes are only committed in some regions of the global South, when, as discussed in this volume, they also take place—to a greater or lesser extent—all around the world. Simultaneously, the book shows how not all countries of the global North effectively apply the human rights norms they proclaim, thus exposing the double standards in human rights discourse and practice.

We would like the research on justice and human rights to become a broader field in which there is more interdisciplinary and collaborative work between different sectors of society, such as academia and human rights activism. Research on these issues should be able to contribute to social, political and legal change. We also believe that a comparative perspective, especially in the analysis of cases of human rights violations, can contribute to see common aspects that can be fundamental, not only to generate more appropriate analytical frameworks but also concrete policies to improve human rights norms and practices promoting the fight against impunity in different regions of the world.

*Leuven University Press, established in 1971 under the auspices of KU Leuven, is an ambitious academic press of international standing, and is distributed by Cornell University Press in North America.

Featured photo: Palais de Justice, Paris, France. Credit: Robin Benzrihem.

Cover image of The Impact of Human Rights Prosecutions. Read more about this book.

Ulrike Capdepón holds a PhD in political science and is a researcher and project coordinator at the Center for Cultural Inquiry (ZKF), University of Konstanz.

Rosario Figari Layús is postdoctoral researcher in social sciences and lecturer at the Chair for Peace Studies, Faculty of Law, Justus Liebig University Giessen.

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