Handle with Care: ICTY, Juridical By-Products, and Criminological Analyses
Aydın-Aitchison, A. "Handle with Care: ICTY, Juridical By-products and Criminological Analyses", in Carsten Stahn, Carmel Agius, Serge Brammertz, and Colleen Rohan (eds) 2020. Legacies of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 191-206.
22 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2020
This paper starts with claims made for the potential historical value of the evidence gathered, presented and scrutinised in international criminal courts. Human Rights Watch claimed of the ICTY that “future generations will use the evidence to understand the region’s history”, while Mullins identified records from the ICTR as a source of ‘thick’ description . Earlier trials have played an important, if not always unproblematic, part in Holocaust historiography. Recently, criminologists and others have started to make use of resources generated or collected by the ICTY and ICTR to describe and analyse international crimes. Methodological aspects of these studies are not always fully or explicitly developed and so we must reflect on how we can make scholarly use of ICTY material, on the challenges and limitations of the source material, on the kinds of questions that material is best suited to answering, and on how to build as robust a set of findings as possible. This paper argues that while evidence and transcripts from international criminal courts have great potential as a source of data for analyses in criminology, and by extension other social sciences and historical research, they need to be handled with care, recognising gaps, regional specificity and the need to assess validity. The paper compares judicial and scholarly approaches, examines access and transparency, issues around the construction of a body of evidence in the trial process and matters relating to witnesses. There are many reasons to take the ICTY as a ‘best case scenario’ of international judicial sources as data, and I examine two different approaches taken to using the court’s output in criminological research. They make a strong case for using the ICTY as part of scholarly efforts to make sense of the violent disintegration of state and society in Yugoslavia.
Keywords: ICTY, archives, criminology, atrocity, methodology, Yugoslavia
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