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International tribunals book makes ‘Choice’ list

January 26, 2009
A book authored by Victor Peskin, an assistant professor in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been selected as a Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title for 2008.

Peskin’s book – “International Justice in Rwanda and the Balkans: Virtual Trials and the Struggle for State Cooperation” – is one of 679 titles on the prestigious Outstanding Academic Titles list.

According to Choice, it is “the premier source for reviews of academic books, electronic media and Internet resources of interest to those in higher education.” The magazine reaches almost every undergraduate college and university library in the United States. The books on its Outstanding Academic Titles list reflect the best in scholarly titles and are chosen from more than 7,000 works reviewed by the magazine in the previous year.

The selection is made for books that achieve overall excellence in presentation or scholarship, originality or uniqueness in treatment, importance relative to other literature in the field, and value to undergraduate students.

“I tried to write the book not only as a contribution to human rights scholarship, but also for undergraduates and lay people,” says Peskin, who received his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and now teaches in ASU’s School of Government, Politics and Global Studies. “The book deals with the pressing global governance issue of how today’s international war crimes tribunals, which lack enforcement powers, can bring suspects to trial.”

Peskin’s book follows the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Both tribunals confront the challenge of obtaining custody of suspects implicated in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Without the cooperation of the states harboring these suspects, the United Nations would fail in its mission to help bring them to justice and to help deter atrocities and reconcile war-torn societies.

His book differs from other international tribunal texts in that Peskin examines the politics surrounding the court, both in the international community and the states involved. Peskin carried out extensive research at the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague, the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha Tanzania as well as in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Peskin conducted 300 in-depth interviews with tribunal officials, politicians and diplomats, to evaluate the controversial politics surrounding the issue of whether governments should hand over their nationals for international prosecution.

Recent reviews of the book have underscored its value in helping practitioners and policymakers understand future problems at the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals and at the permanent International Criminal Court.

“For scholars and practitioners of diplomacy and international law, this publication is indispensable,” writes P.G. Conway, of SUNY College at Oneonta, in his review of Peskin’s book for Choice.

Peskin’s research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of human rights, international law, and comparative politics. His research seeks to understand the conflicts between international legal institutions and nation-states that have ensued with the expansion of international humanitarian and human rights law. He has been at ASU since 2006.