Inescapable Dyads: Why the ICC Cannot Win

28 Leiden Journal of International Law (2015) 323

Queen's University Legal Research Paper 2015-016

42 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2014 Last revised: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by Darryl Robinson

Darryl Robinson

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2014


The International Criminal Court (ICC) is surrounded by controversies and criticisms. Rather than engaging in any particular controversy, this article seeks to contribute at a more panoramic look at the discourse itself. I highlight some patterns in the arguments, showing that many plausible criticisms reflect inescapable dyads. For any position that Court could take, one or more powerful criticisms can inevitably be advanced. Shared terms are recruited for opposite meanings, making them literally inescapable. Awareness of these patterns can (1) provide a framework to better situate arguments, (2) reveal the deeper complexity of the problems, and (3) help us to evaluate and improve upon the arguments.

The goal of this article is to encourage a better conversation that can generate better insights. Awareness of dyadic structures can lead to a debate that is more generous, as we acknowledge the difficulty and uncertainty of choosing among flawed options, yet also more rigorous, as we attempt to articulate and improve upon our frameworks of evaluation.

Keywords: International Criminal Court, international criminal law, politics, legitimacy, apology, utopia, discourse, case selection, situation selection, selectivity

JEL Classification: K14, K33

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Darryl, Inescapable Dyads: Why the ICC Cannot Win (September 1, 2014). 28 Leiden Journal of International Law (2015) 323; Queen's University Legal Research Paper 2015-016. Available at SSRN:

Darryl Robinson (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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