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Achieving elusive justice for flight MH17 victims will be a challenge

Finlay, L. (2014) Achieving elusive justice for flight MH17 victims will be a challenge. The Conversation, 25 July 2014 .

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Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as “barbaric” and “an absolute outrage”. She demanded justice, saying:

We must have justice. We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible.
When 298 innocent civilians are killed in such tragic circumstances what exactly do we mean when we call for justice? What are the chances of justice being done in this case? Can international law realistically deliver a measure of justice that will provide any level of comfort or closure to the grieving families and friends?

Ordinarily, calls for justice rely on demands to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible. This is reflected in the resolution that the Security Council adopted. It emphasised the importance of a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” and demanded that those responsible be held to account.

Unfortunately, both history and recent events suggest that justice under international law is elusive and difficult to deliver. Several avenues may be pursued. None is swift or straightforward.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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