The Validity of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals

Book edited by Postdoctoral Fellow Joanna Nicholson. Published by Brill Nijhoff, forthcoming 2018.

International Criminal Law (ICL) re-emerged onto the global stage during the 1990s in a flood of good will and optimism. Two decades onwards, ICL has not proven to be the panacea some hoped it might be. Today many query whether the field of ICL can live up to the high expectations that have been placed upon it, and whether it is truly possible for the international criminal justice system to bring peace, reconciliation and accountability to communities ravaged by violence, hatred and impunity. Expectations are shifting as to what ICL can realistically achieve.

The ad hoc tribunals are winding down amidst mixed reviews. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is facing challenges of its own, not least its uneasy relationship with some African states. At the same time, calls are being made for new courts and ad hoc jurisdictions to be created and for new crimes to be added to make ICL more relevant in today’s world. Some see the answer in complementarity, but this too may not be the solution that it appears to be. Where then, should we go from here? What possibilities are there for increasing the effectiveness, and, ultimately, the legitimacy of ICL? This edited volume contributes to this debate, offering concrete suggestions as to how the field of international criminal justice can be made more valid, effective and, ultimately, legitimate as it moves into the future.

The book is divided into three different sections. Section one explores how the processes of ICL can be made more effective. It opens with contributions assessing the impact of the ICC on deterrence of acts of violence (Dancy) and exploring how specific debates in ICL taking place in practice and scholarship reflect shared ideals about the nature of ICL (Christensen). A series of papers then offer suggestions as to how the processes of ICL can be improved: by introducing a more cohesive system of Third Party Amicus Participation (Trinidad/Kent); by improving fact-finding processes (McDermott) and by developing standards of good governance in ICL (Vasiliev). The substantive law is also examined in this section, with contributors considering how to interpret the definition of genocide more effectively (Lingaas) and assessing how ICL can better adhere to the principle of legality (Nicholson).

Part two of the volume looks to other courts and institutions to see whether lessons can be drawn. Are there lessons to be learned from other courts concerning the legacy left by ICCTs (Dittrich) or concerning the collegiality among the judges within an ICCT (Mistry)? How can the relationship between the ICC and the UN Security Council be improved (Bowman)? Should there be a joint strategy between the ICC Office and the Prosecutor of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (Moreno Mantilla)? How much heed should the ICC pay to whether national procedures are genuinely complying with human rights standards (Hayashi and Adany)?

The third part of the volume addresses whether more courts or more crimes might be an answer. Does the widely feted Chambres Africaines Extraordinaires in Senegal provide a transferable model (Carlson)? How should economic crimes best be prosecuted in ICL (Oehm)? The book concludes with suggestions as to how to remould ICL in the African context and how to reconcile the competing tensions that exists in ICL (de Hoon).

The volume adds to the growing literature on the legitimacy of ICL, but takes a step further by making concrete suggestions as to how the legitimacy and effectiveness of this area of law can be improved.

Tags: Criminal law
Published Mar. 27, 2017 11:29 AM - Last modified Apr. 20, 2017 1:10 PM