Few would disagree with the statement above in the light of all the efforts made by the International Criminal Justice Organisations today. War crimes are now punishable and international law prevents any heartless dictator or fundamentalist group from depriving innocent people of their honour, life and money.
This question requires the discussion of the role of the victims in International Criminal Trials and the discussion of any possible shortcomings in the system in this regard and their possible solutions. Particular attention is paid to the role of child victims in this regard and the possible reforms in the better redressal of their grievances and sufferings. To assess the role of victims it is necessary to define the concept of who a victim actually is. The term is used in many contexts, but it cannot be used in the subjective, abusive way it is often used. For example many terrorists may regard themselves as victims, which is not acceptable within the principles of International Law.
For a simple definition we may look towards a dictionary definition of this concept. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's dictionary a victim is a "person who has been attacked, injured or killed as the result of a crime, a disease, an accident.'
"an individual, or groups or bodies such as an organisation or social grouping of people, who is harmed or damaged by someone else and whose harm is acknowledged, and who shares the experience and looks for, and receives, help and redress from an agency"(Viano 2000:10).
Another definition of "victim" is contained in Article 1 of the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, as,
"persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws
operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power"
It can be argued that such definitions should also include the dependants of the direct victims as victims themselves. Thus another definition given by the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law can be said to be adequate in this regard when it classifies victims as ,
"Persons who individually or collectively suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law, or serious violations of international humanitarian law. Where appropriate, and in accordance with domestic law, the term "victim" also includes the immediate family or dependants of the