Weighing the value of various responses to mass atrocities is an unfulfilling exercise. To a population shattered by widespread murders, rapes, abductions, and torture, no response can be an adequate response. No amount of money, truthtelling, or criminal sanctions can come close to repairing lives ruptured by violence. “Reconciliation,” a six-syllable word that can be hard to say, is even harder to achieve, a fact evidenced by the chaos and violence that continue to plague many areas that had formerly experienced war and had ostensibly put their conflicts behind them.
Despite the inherent inadequacy of remedial measures, anecdotal evidence suggests that which measures are chosen and how they are implemented do in fact matter. Societies torn apart by mass violence benefit when truth is told, when reparations are provided, and when perpetrators suffer criminal punishment. Victims will often be dissatisfied with the amounts of these commodities handed out following mass atrocities: many South African victims believe that perpetrators disclosed some details but not all of them;1229 victims routinely complain about the amounts of reparations they receive;1230 and few victims consider any prison sentence adequate punishment for the perpetration of one, let alone many, murders.1231 Attempting to redress the harms resulting from international crimes, therefore, is an unsatisfying task that can realistically aim to provide only a small measure of comfort and vindication amidst widespread sorrow, despair, and frustration.
The plea-bargaining system developed in this book is designed to enhance that small measure of comfort and vindication. It is premised on the belief that,