The Expressive Limits of International Criminal Justice: Victim Trauma and Local Culture in the Iron Cage of the Law
iCourts, No. 38, 2016
21 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2016 Last revised: 18 Aug 2018
Date Written: January 5, 2016
International criminal scholarship has recently turned towards expressivist strands of thought for the purpose of examining the work of international criminal courts. This expressive turn has been characterised by a concern for the pedagogic value of such courts, examining their potential to act as instruments of social communication and theatres of didactic legality. Taking expressivism as its point of departure, this paper critically examines the expressive limits of international criminal justice. Specifically, the paper examines the extent to which international criminal courts have been expressively constrained both in their ability to alleviate the traumas of victims and in their capacity to be receptive to the local cultural values of conflict-affected communities. The paper argues that a critical reflection on the expressive limits of international criminal courts, paying particular attention to their retributive core and Western cultural assumptions, can help such institutions better navigate the complex terrain in which they operate, reducing aspirations concerning what they should be expected to achieve in practice and improving their legitimacy amongst local communities.
Previously published in the European Society of International Law's Paper Series, available here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2709620.
Keywords: International criminal justice, expressivism, victims, trauma, local culture
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