All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals

All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals

All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals

All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals


Within days of Madeleine Albright's confirmation as U. S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1993, she instructed David Scheffer to spearhead the historic mission to create a war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. As senior adviser to Albright and then as President Clinton's ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, Scheffer was at the forefront of the efforts that led to criminal tribunals for the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia, and that resulted in the creation of the permanent International Criminal Court. All the Missing Souls is Scheffer's gripping insider's account of the international gamble to prosecute those responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and to redress some of the bloodiest human rights atrocities in our time.

Scheffer reveals the truth behind Washington's failures during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the anemic hunt for notorious war criminals, how American exceptionalism undercut his diplomacy, and the perilous quests for accountability in Kosovo and Cambodia. He takes readers from the killing fields of Sierra Leone to the political back rooms of the U. N. Security Council, providing candid portraits of major figures such as Madeleine Albright, Anthony Lake, Richard Goldstone, Louise Arbour, Samuel "Sandy" Berger, Richard Holbrooke, and Wesley Clark, among others.

A stirring personal account of an important historical chapter, All the Missing Souls provides new insights into the continuing struggle for international justice.


Isaiah prophesied, “and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low.” That prediction bore truth in my lifetime and on my watch.

I recall Freetown, Sierra Leone, in February 1999. a teenage girl named Nancy lay before me in the shade of a small overcrowded hospital where mutilated victims, some only children, waited for miracles that never arrived. Their bodies were grotesquely disfigured. Nancy, in shock, remained mute. Drug-crazed rebel boys had brutally gang-raped her and poured molten plastic into her eyes during their rampage through the city. For me, Nancy’s plight once again evoked the horror of atrocities that erupted at massive crime scenes throughout the 1990s.

I also remember a steep hillside north of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia where, on a hot August day in 2000, I stood witness to the first day that forensics experts were examining hundreds of skeletons of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) dumped from a winding dirt road after they had been massacred by Bosnian Serb militia at a warehouse in the valley below five years earlier. Only ethnic Serbs lived in the area after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, and nobody had bothered to report the existence of an entire hillside of human bones. One Bosniak refugee returning that month to his home nearby had immediately alerted war crimes investigators. Another returnee told me, “We have to return to our homes here. We can look at Serb eyes because they are the guilty ones. We’ll always look at their eyes and they’ll be ashamed.” She described how the men and boys of Srebrenica fled north as she heard their cries from the woods, “Help me! Don’t leave me here!” Then, she muttered, “the Serbs would ambush and kill them.”

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