Despite, or perhaps because of its temporary run, the Nuremberg trials are celebrated for their efficacy in prosecuting WWII war criminals whose crimes against human rights crossed borders. Since the victors of WWII did not contend the jurisdiction of the Nuremberg tribunal, the tribunal was endowed to punish criminals as the judges sitting upon it saw fit. It was much more powerful (and threatening) than the truth committees that have arisen from its shadow.
The truth tribunals of the late twentieth century are quarantined in their search of the “truth” to developing countries, and those with neutral or strained relationships with the US. Although poor court maintenance makes the tribunals direly needed to record and begin a reparation process in developing countries, it is highly problematic that the international community is not willing to convict war criminals among high-ranking US officials or from other powerful countries.
When the US constantly threatens to pull funding from the UN when hawkish officials are called out of the Oval Office to the testimonial booth, the puppet strings of the international judicial structure (built upon US funding) becomes more apparent. The reality of blooming human right zeal contends with the practicalities of super-countries adjusting rules on jurisdiction to benefit them.
Similar to Belgium changing its 2003 war criminal arrest law when Tony Blair and George Bush took offense to being indicted for war crimes, the UK also changed war crime law when Israeli official Tzipi Livni decided not to make a trip to the Big Ben when she was issued with an arrest warrant for war crimes in Gaza in 2009.
A true international court that Hannah Arendt and many other human rights activists envisioned has come to be but has also fallen short in many ways. Even if it is unlikely, and perhaps even unwise to demand hypersensitive super-countries shoulder accountability for their negligence and/ or intentional human rights crimes, it is important to recognize the damage done as countries change laws to keep the peace. The trend of appeasment begins to look darkly familiar.
Human rights have captured the world and there are other geographic locations that conduct their own human rights venues. Instead of a top-down structure, it would be beneficial for all for these human-right start-ups to start a coalition. Everything from technology to consumerism has been deconstructed to have a lateral base as we’ve entered the 21st century. Protesting always has been. Tribunals can be laterally structured as well, and international in a similar way.
Furthermore, It is just as important to disseminate news through non-Western venues that value objectivity but aren’t afraid to publish their version of the truth, like Al-Jazeera, for instance.