Impunity- Inertia, Inaction, and Invalidity: A Literature Review Academic Article uri icon


  • Impunity is the torturer's most relished tool. It is the dictator's greatest and most potent weapon. It is the victim's ultimate injury. And, it is the international community's most conspicuous failure. Impunity continues to be one of the most prevalent causes of human rights violations in the world. As we near the new millennium, we must find effective ways to combat this vexing predicament. Impunity knows no territorial bounds and speaks no specific language. It is not unique to any religion or race, and is not limited to any particular geographical region. Impunity remains a world wide problem. The end of the Cold War and the rise of nascent democracies throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe have brought much needed attention to this pervasive problem. Accordingly, the amount of literature and scholarly attention devoted to impunity continues to grow. This paper attempts to familiarize the reader with a broad range of information relating to impunity. The approach taken is mainly international, although one section will be devoted solely to the history of impunity in the Asian-Pacific region. Further, due to the limited scope of this review, only impunity relating to gross violations of human rights will be considered.

published proceedings

  • Boston University International Law Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Penrose, M. M

complete list of authors

  • Penrose, Mary Margaret

publication date

  • October 1999