Postcard from the ICTY: Examining International Criminal Law's Narratives
In International Law's Objects: Emergence, Encounter and Erasure Through Object and Image, Jessie Hohmann & Daniel Joyce Eds., (Forthcoming)
13 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 20, 2017
This chapter examines a postcard which is readily available at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. As an object of international criminal law, the postcard reveals a great deal about the aims of international criminal law, and the concomitant image of international criminal law. I argue that the postcard demonstrates international criminal law’s particular preoccupation with two aims: ending impunity, and providing a meaningful voice for victims. I also examine the postcard as an object that is used in the branding and marketing of international criminal law. In particular, I examine the claims to end impunity and to provide a place for victims as statements to market the ICTY and international criminal law. But why does an object designed to ‘market’ an international criminal tribunal use language and imagery that suggests guilt? What is the effect of this? And what does the placement of the victim’s handcuffs and the accused’s handcuffs tell us about the place of the victim and the accused in these trials? I argue that these aspects of the postcard are problematic. As a marketing technique, this postcard succeeds in promoting particular aspects of international criminal law – but in doing so, it also manipulates (and reinforces) unhelpful tropes of good versus evil, of ‘deserving’ victimhood, and of conviction as a core component of international criminal law. The postcard and the handcuffs provide a place to critically analyse the system of international criminal law, and the stories it tells about its aspirations and operations.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation