Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Shane Darcy


The phenomenon of collaboration during wartime is as old as war itself. During situations of armed conflict, civilians or combatants belonging to one party to the conflict frequently provide assistance to the opposing side in various ways, such as by disclosing valuable information, defecting and fighting for the enemy, engaging in propaganda, or providing administrative support to an occupying power. Such acts of collaboration have been punished harshly, with violent retribution often directed at alleged collaborators during armed conflict, while states and at times non-state actors have prosecuted and punished collaboration as treason or related offenses in times of war. The consequences of wartime collaboration endure beyond the end of hostilities, however, and often present particular challenges in divided post-conflict societies seeking to maintain peace and come to terms with the past. This article examines how the phenomenon of wartime collaboration has been addressed in the aftermath of armed conflict. It primarily considers the formal processes which have been employed for such purposes, including criminal trials, denaturalization proceedings, amnesties and truth commissions. It examines particular legal questions arising in this context, such as the scope of the principle of legality and the meaning of the defense of duress in light of the frequent use of coercion to secure collaboration. The article seeks to contribute to the literature on transitional justice, which has at times neglected the issue of collaborators, by examining how post-conflict processes have variously addressed their activities, liabilities and experiences.