Theses Doctoral

Just Enough: The Politics of Accountability for Mass Atrocities

Cronin-Furman, Kate

This dissertation explores when, how, and why accountability is provided for mass atrocities. It asks why post-atrocity governments often put in place institutions that superficially resemble accountability mechanisms but lack the capacity to deliver justice. It theorizes the creation of these institutions as an example of a broader pattern in human rights behavior, called “quasi-compliance” and argues that the uneven enforcement of human rights norms incentivizes states to gamble on doing just enough to escape penalty. The theory is tested on an original cross-national dataset of mass atrocities committed between 1970 and 2014 and finds that the characteristics of post-atrocity governments that deliver justice and those that create quasi-compliant accountability institutions are very different. While robust trials and truth commissions are only pursued when domestic politics favors it, quasi-compliant institutions are put in place to deflect international censure for failure to abide by the global accountability norm requiring criminal prosecutions for mass atrocities. The mechanisms underlying quasi-compliance are explored in two qualitative case studies, drawing on fieldwork in Sri Lanka and Democratic Republic of the Congo.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Putnam, Tonya L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 17, 2015