Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair

By Martha Minow; Nancy L. Rosenblum | Go to book overview

1
Breaking the Cycles of Hatred

MARTHA MINOW


Memory and Hate: Are There Lessons from
Around the World?*

As we settle into this new century and this new millenium, it is time to take stock. I do not think this era will be remembered particularly for its wars, its mass atrocities, even its genocides. Sadly, these are not so distinctive in the history of humankind, although the emergence of technologies of destruction and mass media does seem to deepen the horror. What I think, and hope, is distinctive of this age is the mounting waves of objections and calls for collective responses to mass violence. Notably, people have turned to the language and instruments of law, casting genocides and regimes of torture as subjects for adjudication, a framework of human rights, reparations, and truth-telling. After the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., calls for international adjudication rivaled public discussions of military responses.

I recently served on an international commission on Kosovo that reported to the United Nations in the fall of 2001. In the course of that work, I met with the ambassadors to the United States from Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia. In the most emphatic terms, they placed the establishment of an independent and operational judiciary in Kosovo as the highest priority—for peace and stability in the region. Yet I know from my informants in Kosovo how remote and challenging this task is. Not only is there a profound shortage of trained individuals; there is barely an agreed-on set of legal rules. And there are such high levels of distrust across the lines of ethnic division that many people think it is

*Gilbane Fund Lecture, Brown University, October 19, 1999. Thanks especially to Nancy
Rosenblum, the community at Brown University, Laurie Corzett, and Sandra Badin for as-
sistance, and to Jesse Fisher for assistance with the first lecture. This draws on Martha
Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass
Violence
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1998).

-14-

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