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Home arrow Law arrow United States law and policy on transitional justice : principles, politics, and pragmatics
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B. NO ZERO-SUM GAME

A second attribute of transitional justice is that it is not necessarily zero-sum (unlike some other issues, such as security,16 are often considered to be). In other words, “more” transitional justice for one individual or group of suspected atrocity perpetrators does not theoretically mean “less” for another; there is no necessary scarcity of transitional justice arising from its consumption/application, at least in theory. That said, transitional justice can be a zero-sum game in the practical sense that transitional justice for one individual or group may mean little or no transitional justice for another. For example, where there are numerous alleged perpetrators of a particular atrocity (such as in the Rwandan genocide), limited time and/or resources may prevent the often costly and lengthy process of apprehension, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of all suspects. In such cases, the primary transitional justice authority (in the case of the Rwandan genocide, the ICTR) must prioritize the individuals it seeks to hold accountable and then defer to other transitional justice authorities (in the case of the Rwandan genocide, the Rwandan ordinary domestic judicial system, gacaca, and foreign justice systems) to try those individuals, or to allow those individuals to escape justice completely.17

 
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