The Limitations of International Law Expertise – War Amongst Peacemakers: The Juba Peace Process as Battleground for International Lawyer's Biases
10 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 5, 2013
This paper reflects on the limitations of international law expertise, using examples from the Juba peace process on the civil war in Uganda. In peace negotiations (like in all situations), the international law expert must acknowledge the limitations of international law. International law is one-dimensional, and cannot take all relevant factors into account. Further, in any given situation, there will be some regimes and some rules of international law that are more effective than others, because they have powerful support or efficient mechanisms. This means that some norms, some claims and the interests of some stakeholders will be privileged. Many of the controversies associated with international interventions based on international law – like the ICC prosecutions in Uganda – have in fact been caused by too much emphasis on, for instance, international criminal justice and civil rights, and too little emphasis on reparations, economic and social rights and collective rights. Still, even if international law could be better used, there are limits to what can be accomplished even with creative international law expertise. There is a structural bias in international law, which privileges the state. International law, and its institutions, can do too little to refer matters from the government to other legitimate stakeholders, often leaving us with a choice between the (distant) supranational level and the (corrupt) national level. While international law does determine an international minimum standard for the state, it is still much better at empowering the government than at empowering people.
Keywords: ICC, Juba, Uganda, international law, legal expertise
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