What are some of the problems that the United Nations War Crimes Commission has faced since its inauguration?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In terms of examining problems that the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) faced, one finds that the initial problems then are similar to the same ones tha the United Nations faces now.  Fundamentally, the UNWCC was charged with investigation of war crimes and atrocities and could do nothing else.  The initial statement of purpose makes this clear:

[The purpose of the UNWCC is] to collect material, supported wherever possible by depositions or by other documents, to establish such crimes, especially where they are systematically perpetrated, and to name and identify those responsible for their perpetration.

Such a declaration makes the UNWCC nothing more than a fact finding mission.  There is little else it can do in terms of providing justice to the victims, meting out punishments to the offenders, and little else in way of relevant power.  The UNWCC amounts to a public shaming, something that does not offend the sensibility of the government perpetrating atrocities on innocents.  Along these lines, the collection of information is something that can be done with governments and ruling bodies that are friendly and receptive to the UNWCC.  Yet, the government or ruling body that is engaged in atrocity is not going to be willing to share information or enable the UNWCC to obtain the information it needs.  In this stalemate, the UNWCC can only rely on public shaming offend the guilty party into action.  This becomes a fundamental problem from its inception and something that is still relevant today in assessing both its function and aspects of the United Nations, in general.


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