ABSTRACT: Prosecution of crimes and redress for victims lie at the heart of the mandate of the International Criminal Court. The fact that both are equally weighted and that victims have a voice in Court’s proceedings have been welcomed as important achievements of international criminal justice.
Indeed, the other existing international criminal institutions do not provide for participation of victims in the criminal debate leading to the recognition of the liability of suspects. This improvement follows from a holistic understanding of the purpose of international criminal prosecutions: to deliver both retributive and restorative justice. While justice must be effectively delivered in order to have a deterrent effect and an impact in educating the public and helping propagating important concepts such as international harmony and equal worth of all persons, without a restorative component it cannot have a real impact on the interests of victims. This is particularly true in post-conflict societies when justice initiatives should be driven by the three goals of restoring the rule of law, restoring the rights that were violated and ensuring that there is a distributive element which benefits victims and contributes to addressing political and economic discrimination. In this context, international criminal prosecutions may be a vehicle to contribute to national reconciliation and to the restoration and maintenance of peace. This article proposes some considerations on the first ICC proceedings in relation to the role that victims can play in the process for the establishment of the truth through their participation and the impact that international criminal proceedings may have for national reconciliation.