The question of whether the recent proliferation of human rights fact-finding missions, inquiries, and tribunals has led to a greater accountability for the perpetrators of gross human rights violations was the focus of a dialogue between Richard Goldstone and Radhika Coomaraswamy in the fifth annual Emilio Mignone Lecture on Transitional Justice.

Goldstone is a South African judge and a driving force behind groundbreaking—and sometimes controversial—national and international rights commissions, including the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; the U.N. Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict; and the “Goldstone Commission,” a seminal investigation into the perpetrators of violence during South Africa’s transition from the Apartheid era to its first democratic elections.

Coomaraswamy is the U.N. under secretary general, special representative for children and armed conflict, a role which sees her advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable, children, during times of greatest hardship, conflict and war. She is the former U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women and the former chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission.

Moderated by International Center for Transitional Justice President David Tolbert, the discussion drew on the parallels and shared mechanisms between Goldstone’s work in pursuing justice through national and international commissions, and that of Coomaraswamy, which has at times focused on investigations at the grassroots level, in the immediate aftermath of an alleged atrocity.

Watch the full discussion (1 hr 29 min):

Posted November 15, 2010