Book Review: Designing Criminal Tribunals: Sovereignty and International Concerns in the Protection of Human Rights, by Steven D. Roper & Lilian A. Barria

6 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2011

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

Boston University - School of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

This piece, published in the Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, reviews Designing Criminal Tribunals: Sovereignty and International Concerns in the Protection of Human Rights, a book by Steven D. Roper and Lilian A. Barria. Roper and Barria’s book examines various ad hoc tribunals, primarily those created since the end of the Cold War. These tribunals include the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR), both international tribunals; the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and the Special Crimes Panel for East Timor (SCPET), all mixed tribunals; and the Indonesian Human Rights Court (IHRC), a purely domestic court. While Designing Criminal Tribunals provides important information and analysis about several critical aspects of its six key case studies, including their financial bases and completion strategies (Chapters Five and Six, respectively, which are the two strongest chapters), it suffers from two major weaknesses. The first is that the book adds little original research to this important topic. By drawing heavily upon secondary sources, Roper and Barria deliver little more than a summary of the existing literature on this topic. The second major weakness of the book is that it is methodologically unsound. The logic is arbitrary, and readers are left pondering the true focus of the project and its rationale. One methodological problem of this book is its narrow transitional justice option selection. A second methodological weakness of the book is its narrow transitional justice case selection. The authors should be commended for raising awareness about the phenomenon and challenges of ad hoc tribunals. However, Designing Criminal Tribunals adds little value to the literature on international criminal law and transitional justice because Roper and Barria rehash and regurgitate so much of others’ - and their own - work. Furthermore, the book is confused about its exact purpose. In not clearly providing a rationale for its chosen case studies, the book reads as a disjointed set of reflections on a topic that s too important not to treat more rigorously.

Keywords: Transitional Justice, International Criminal Tribunals, War Crimes, Sovereignty, Human Rights, United Nations, ICTR, ICTY, SCSL, ECCC, SCPET, IHRC, Nuremberg Tribunal, Tokyo Tribunal, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., Book Review: Designing Criminal Tribunals: Sovereignty and International Concerns in the Protection of Human Rights, by Steven D. Roper & Lilian A. Barria (2007). Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, Vol. 10, pp. 209-214, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1923724

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

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