Can an independent international judicial system function in the middle of a war? How, in the world of Realpolitik, can the search for truth and justice be carried out? Can a court created by the Security Council free itself from the Council’s political yoke? These are the urgent questions asked and answered by the Swiss journalist Pierre Hazan in “La Justice Face a la Guerre,” his engaging and informative behind-the-scenes look at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

At every stage in the Tribunal’s creation and operation, Hazan shows us, the big powers tried to manipulate the court to serve their changing interests in the on-going Balkans wars. As the US,

France and Britain sought, alternately, to punish Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and to negotiate with him, they attempted to “use the court like a yo-yo.” This very readable account, based on interviews with many of the key actors, focuses on the fascinating interplay between the mounting horrors on the ground, the diplomatic maneuvering and the decisions of the court’s prosecutor. Hazan ably demonstrates that when the search for justice is compromised by politics, the resulting impunity breeds contempt for the law.

No such concise account of the Tribunal’s work yet exists in English and this book would fill that gap brilliantly.

Reed Brody, Director of Advocacy, Human Rights Watch, New York