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Representational Practices at the International Criminal Court: The Gap between Juridified and Abstract Victimhood

31 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2013  

Sara Kendall

Kent Law School

Sarah Nouwen

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 12, 2013

Abstract

In the context of a special issue on ‘practices’ at the International Criminal Court, this article focuses on the practice of representation, and in particular on the practice of representing victims. As political and social theorists such as Pitkin and Bourdieu have argued with respect to politics, representation does not merely reflect reality, it is constitutive of it. In the ICC, two practices of victim representation have been prevalent. The first is the rather novel and widely welcomed practice of representing victims as participants in ICC proceedings. The second is the older practice of the discursive invocation of victims as the telos of international criminal law. But these two practices lead in different directions. Victim participation in court proceedings has led to the juridification of victimhood — the legal categorisation of victims — and as a result of this juridification, very few individuals are actually personally represented in the Court’s proceedings. The discursive invocation of victims as the telos of the Court’s work has created a deity-like and seemingly sovereign entity — ‘The Victims’ — that transcends all actual victims and corresponds to no individual victim in their particularity. The result of the two practices is an increasing gap between the limited role that victims play in international criminal proceedings due to the juridification of victimhood and the continued presentation of ‘The Victims’ as the raison d’être of international criminal law. The overdetermined presence of the figure of ‘The Victims’ as a rhetorical construct obscures the representative challenges faced by conflict-affected individuals in accessing the form of justice that is practiced in their (abstract) name.

Keywords: victims, International Criminal Law, representation, juridified victimhood, abstract victimhood, The Victims

JEL Classification: K3, K33,

Suggested Citation

Kendall, Sara and Nouwen, Sarah, Representational Practices at the International Criminal Court: The Gap between Juridified and Abstract Victimhood (August 12, 2013). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 24/2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2313094 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2313094

Sara Kendall

Kent Law School ( email )

Eliot College
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP
United Kingdom

Sarah Nouwen (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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