Beyond Rhetoric: Interrogating the Eurocentric Critique of International Criminal Law’s Selectivity in the Wake of the 2022 Ukraine Invasion

36 (4) Leiden Journal of International Law (2023), pp. 1095-1116

22 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2023 Last revised: 9 Nov 2023

See all articles by Patryk I. Labuda

Patryk I. Labuda

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies

Date Written: June 6, 2023

Abstract

Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine has reinvigorated the debate over international criminal law’s selectivity. While many have welcomed the renewed interest in accountability for international crimes in the wake of the ‘Ukraine moment’, others have emphasized double standards in the enforcement of international criminal law, including a lack of accountability for Western violations and disproportionate attention to European victims. This article interrogates the master narratives about international criminal law’s post-Ukraine selectivity and complicates accusations of bias by emphasizing Ukraine’s liminal status in the global order and the cross-border nature of aggression as an explanatory factor for differentiated responses from states. It suggests that concerns about an invidious ‘Ukraine effect’ on international criminal law enforcement are less persuasive after the International Criminal Court’s decade-long conflict with the African Union, and that a decentring of investigations to Eurasia should be construed not only as a moment of soul-searching but also as a welcome opportunity to rebalance the scales of justice. The article encourages international criminal law stakeholders to move beyond critique that unwittingly essentializes Eurocentric assumptions and to devise a more compelling vision of global criminal law enforcement that challenges crimes and inequalities both between and within states.

Keywords: Eurocentricity, Selectivity, ICC, International Criminal Law

Suggested Citation

Labuda, Patryk I., Beyond Rhetoric: Interrogating the Eurocentric Critique of International Criminal Law’s Selectivity in the Wake of the 2022 Ukraine Invasion (June 6, 2023). 36 (4) Leiden Journal of International Law (2023), pp. 1095-1116, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4471196

Patryk I. Labuda (Contact Author)

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies ( email )

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