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Special Issue 2013 - Call for Papers

The role of international criminal justice in transitional justice

The International Journal of Transitional Justice invites submissions for its 2013 Special Issue titled ‘The role of international criminal justice in transitional justice,' to be guest edited by Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law.

International criminal justice has been a key ingredient in shaping the field of transitional justice. The focus of the 2013 Special Issue is on the impacts of international criminal justice on transitional justice processes and goals. The timing of this Special Issue – the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the ICTY; slightly over a decade since the entering into force of the ICC Rome Statute; and on the 10th anniversary of the Special Court for Sierra Leone – provides significant scope for reflection. The issue will seek to share critical reflections on the contribution of international criminal justice – its mechanisms, concepts, movements and ideas – to the development of the transitional justice field.

While some argue that international justice has played a key role in combatting impunity and filling deficits of justice in post-conflict and post-authoritarian contexts, others criticize the international justice ‘movement’ for undermining national processes of transition and local initiatives. The human and financial resources dedicated to creating and operating these courts have ‘sucked the air’ out of more local initiatives, in this view. In light of rapid developments in this area over the last two decades it is appropriate and timely to reappraise the role for international criminal justice in political transitions and post-conflict environments in building sustainable peace.

Looking at the historical record of these international justice institutions and present burning policy debates, the Special Issue invites questions about the legacy of the ICTY, ICTR, and subsequent internationalized criminal justice institutions not only for the contexts in which they have functioned, but also for the development of international criminal justice and its future trajectory as well as for justice in transition generally.

Furthermore, how can the lessons gleaned from the experiences of these justice institutions be applied to the ongoing role of the ICC? While hybrid and country-specific courts were specifically set up to help transitions, the ICC, by virtue of being a ‘world court’, has a far broader agenda and is therefore more distanced from the contexts in which it operates. In addition, increased attention is being paid to the concept of complementarity, both as a legal norm binding state and international action and as a politically negotiated space between the UN, state representatives, national leaders, and civil society advocates. Thus, attention to international criminal justice is not limited to consideration of cases and countries where an international or internationalized court operates or has operated, but also to the effect of the threat of international prosecution and the discourse of international criminal justice even in countries where neither the ICC nor a country-specific court is now actively seized of a case.

The Special Issue provides an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to explore the evolution of the mechanisms, ideas/concepts, and movements of international criminal law and justice, and consider their current forms, as well as how they may continue to shape transitional justice.

Some of the key questions to explore in this regard include:

  • What is the record of international and hybrid criminal justice institutions in prosecuting historic and contemporary atrocity crimes and redressing impunity?
  • What has been the relationship between the growth of international criminal justice and the use of domestic criminal justice to provide redress for mass violence?
  • Have these efforts led to a better understanding of the relationship between law, justice, and post-conflict reconstruction?
  • What has been their impact on ensuring long-term stability, peace and in contributing to more equitable/transparent/participatory democracies?
  • Where do the interests of victims and communities fit into international justice institutions?
  • What can be the balance between pursuit for international criminal justice and the imperatives for peace and reconciliation?
  • What are the processes through which tensions among stakeholders can be resolved?
  • Who gets to define the contours of justice at both an empirical and practical level?
  • What is the meaning of complementarity between national, regional and international justice forums?
  • Ultimately, what role can and should international law and institutions play in addressing justice in the wake of internal conflict, and in aiding transitions?

The deadline for submissions closed on 1 March 2013.

For questions or further information, please contact the Managing Editor at ijtj@csvr.org.za