International justice as a contested domain: a crisis of international criminal courts?

Available in Russian

Authors: Elena Khabarova, Galina Nelaeva, Natalia Sidorova

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2019-2-93-106

Keywords: backlash; international criminal justice; international criminal procedure; international tribunals; legitimacy crisis


Modern history of international law would not be complete without the story of international criminal tribunals, set up for the first time in Nuremberg and Tokyo by the Allied Powers in the aftermath of WWII, and then, after the end of the Cold War, by the Security Council for crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ad hoc tribunals). In the 1990s, establishment of the tribunals was regarded by both politicians and academics as an important and necessary step to end impunity for the most serious international crimes. Since the mid-2000s, however, we witness waning of interest towards international criminal justice institutions (and even overt resistance to their activities on the part of the states), despite the fact that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered into force in 2002. In this article we would like to contemplate on the problem of “backlash” in relation to international criminal courts and tribunals, as well as to suggest a possible way out of the current “legitimacy crisis”. Optimistic assessments of international criminal justice prospects are long gone, being replaced by gloomy scenarios of crisis in this domain of international law and recurring appeals to reform the existing institutions. Recent withdrawal of some African states from the Rome Statute only exacerbates the already bleak situation when states increasingly fail to comply with the decisions of international organizations, resorting to harsh criticism of their activities instead. The article starts by looking at existing definitions of this current “backlash” against international courts in the context of “legitimacy crisis”, and proceeds with the examination of states’ relations with international criminal tribunals and the ICC with a view of identifying major points of contention and possible solutions to the crisis as seen from the perspective of both liberal and critical theoretical camps. In the final part of the article we seek to demonstrate that the adoption of a model code of international criminal procedure (or at least, codification of certain rules regulating major problem areas like the rights of the accused and protection of victims and witnesses) might serve to re-create trust in international criminal institutions.

About the authors: Galina Nelaeva – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Political Science, Professor, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia; Natalia Sidorova – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Institute of State and Law, University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia; Elena Khabarova – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Institute of State and Law, University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia

Citation: Nelaeva G., Sidorova N., Khabarova E. (2019) Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie kak predmet osparivaniya: krizis mezhdunarodnykh ugolovnykh sudov? [International justice as a contested domain: a crisis of international criminal courts?]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.9, no.2, pp.93–106. (In Russian).


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