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The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law is pleased to announce its ninth annual conference, to take place February 7-8, 2013. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is strongly encouraged.

Since the early 1990s, the human rights movement has increasingly taken up the mantra of anti-impunity and placed its faith in criminal justice systems—international, domestic and transnational—to achieve its aims.  Indeed, it is difficult to find the identification of a human rights violation today that does not call for criminal investigation and the prosecution of perpetrators.  To the extent there are debates about that strategy, they generally take place around the question “where,” not whether, prosecutions should occur.  With the growth of the international criminal arena and increased pressure on states to engage in prosecutions of human rights violators, even if not especially from years long past, an increasing amount of attention has been placed on uncovering, developing and making accessible archives that might assist now or in the future with the fight against impunity.

This conference will bring together scholars, human rights advocates and policy makers from around the world to assess critically the human rights movement’s focus on anti-impunity. What is gained and lost with this focus?

The conference will consider questions such as the following:  What are the political or other sources of the human rights movement’s focus on criminal prosecution?  How has the presence of international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court affected human rights activism, both locally and globally?  How has the arguably emerging norm of international law against (formal) amnesty for those who have committed gross human rights violations affected the ways in which countries are permitted to “transition” after conflict?  How has the debate from the 1990s about whether peace or justice should take priority in transition been reconfigured through the emergence of anti-impunity as an overriding norm? What roles do and should historical archives play in legal and political processes?  What is the relationship between criminal and civil liability for human rights violations and between international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international human rights and transitional justice?  Do they function in similar or different ways via a norm of anti-impunity?

The conference is co-sponsored by the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies, the Center for European Studies, the Department of Government, the Humanities Institute, the Barron Ulmer Kidd Centennial Lectureship, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the South Asia Institute, all at the University of Texas of Austin, and by the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.