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

See all articles by Sophie Rigney

Sophie Rigney

University of Melbourne - Law School; University of London - Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Date Written: February 20, 2017

Abstract

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

Rigney, Sophie, Postcard from the ICTY: Examining International Criminal Law's Narratives (February 20, 2017). In International Law's Objects: Emergence, Encounter and Erasure Through Object and Image, Jessie Hohmann & Daniel Joyce Eds., (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2920447

Sophie Rigney (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

University of London - Institute of Commonwealth Studies ( email )

Institute of Commonwealth Studies
South Block, Senate House
London, WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom

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