The Iraqi Special Tribunal: Securing Sovereignty from the Ground Up

October 3, 2004

Michael A. Newton

The exercise of punitive criminal accountability pursuant to domestic laws is at the heart of our understanding of what it means to have a society built on the rule of law, which in turn makes it the sine qua non of true sovereignty. It is so essential and so basic that the pursuit of justice often becomes a focal point of the mission for military forces deployed to a society where the legislative and judicial systems have become corrupted, replaced, or have simply collapsed under the weight of tyranny or corruption. Indeed, the civilian population demands justice and an end to repression even in the immediate aftermath of operations in areas where the citizens suffer from extreme poverty and overwhelming material needs. The priority that the common people attach to the restoration of true justice perhaps reflects an inchoate realization that the freedom from oppression achieved by external military intervention cannot be sustained without the restoration of effective and fair mechanisms for societal justice. The elation that Iraqi citizens expressed as the statues of Saddam fell in Baghdad testified to their deep desire for a restoration of a society built on the rule of law rather than one dominated by the whims of a dictator supported by the machinery of bureaucratic oppression.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal: Securing Sovereignty from the Ground Up