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This report will provide a global analysis of the reasons why amnesty laws continue to be introduced, the diversity in the scope of these laws and their relationship to other post-conflict justice modalities. In analyzing the trends in amnesty law use, the report will draw from the extensive and up-to-date Amnesty Law Database created by the author to assess patterns across each region of the world. This database contains data on both well-known and neglected amnesty laws in all regions of the world, and at the time of writing had information on 506 amnesties in 130 countries from the end of the Second World War to January 2008. However, for the case studies discussed below, the focus will be on post-conflict states where the amnesty issue is currently “active,” amnesties that have received little academic scrutiny, and amnesties that either explicitly include or exclude crimes under international law. The analysis of case studies will also include some examples where states have deliberately tried to enact laws that they argue are not amnesties although the effects are similar, such as the Justice and Peace Law 2005 in Colombia. This report will begin with a general discussion of how the “success” of an amnesty could be evaluated. It will then briefly analyze the position of amnesties under international law, before moving to the comparative study of amnesty laws. In the comparative analysis, it will first present global trends in the introduction of amnesty, followed by an analysis of regional trends. Within the discussion of each region, several case studies will be explored. These studies will expand on trends within that region, but will also illustrate the diversity in the use of amnesty laws and how these laws generally coexist with other post-conflict justice modalities. The report will conclude by highlighting the lessons to be learnt from state practice on the form that such amnesties could take.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Pursuit of International Criminal Justice: A World Study on Conflicts, Victimization, and Post-Conflict Justice
EditorsM. Cherif Bassiouni
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-94-0000-017-9
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Jan 2010


  • amnesty laws
  • transitional justice


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