International courts

Is International Law International?

Book cover showing a connected map of the world

Author/s (editor/s):

Anthea Roberts

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Oxford University Press - Is International Law International?

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Is International Law International? Preface and Chapter 1 (2MB)

Is International Law International? Chapter 3 (14MB)

About the book

This book takes the reader on a sweeping tour of the international legal field to reveal some of the patterns of difference, dominance, and disruption that belie international law’s claim to universality.

Pulling back the curtain on the ‘divisible college of international lawyers’, Anthea Roberts shows how international lawyers in different states, regions, and geopolitical groupings are often subject to distinct incoming influences and outgoing spheres of influence in ways that reflect and reinforce differences in how they understand and approach international law. These divisions manifest themselves in contemporary controversies, such as debates about Crimea and the South China Sea.

Not all approaches to international law are created equal, however. Using case studies and visual representations, the author demonstrates how actors and materials from some states and groups have come to dominate certain transnational flows and forums in ways that make them disproportionately influential in constructing the ‘international’. This point holds true for Western actors, materials, and approaches in general, and for Anglo-American (and sometimes French) ones in particular.

However, these patterns are set for disruption. As the world moves past an era of Western dominance and toward greater multipolarity, it is imperative for international lawyers to understand the perspectives and approaches of those coming from diverse backgrounds. By taking readers on a comparative tour of different international law academies and textbooks, the author encourages them to see the world through the eyes of others - an essential skill in this fast changing world of shifting power dynamics and rising nationalism.

The pursuit of reparations: promises and practices in international criminal justice

Reparations to victims are often seen as a central aspect of a more victim-oriented approach to justice and peace in the wake of mass atrocities. In what can be described as a potentially significant shift in which international criminal justice is conceived, the International Criminal Court (ICC) became the first international criminal justice body to which individual victims of mass crimes could submit claims for reparations.

The promise and practice of victim reparations in international criminal justice

The PhD midterm review seminar provides an opportunity for PhD scholars to give an update on the progress of their doctoral research and to receive feedback from beyond their supervisory panel. In this PhD midterm review seminar, Christoph Sperfeldt will discuss his thesis on victim reparations in international criminal justice.

Does social science expertise matter at international criminal courts?

Social science experts are increasingly called by the defense or prosecution in international criminal trials, and observers have begun to evaluate their reception in the courtroom.

An analysis of over 450 expert appearances shows that international courts prefer scientific methods. However, when social scientists are called, international courts favor qualitative approaches.

Comparing two international hate speech trials, it becomes apparent that judges accept language experts because they do not challenge judicial sovereignty and the status hierarchy of the courtroom.

International criminal justice and the politics of statebuilding in Palestine

This seminar begins by considering Palestine’s recent membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the latest iteration in the quest for statehood.

A number of international legal mechanisms have been pursued by state and various civil society actors since the mid-2000s. The ICC move then needs to be linked to a broader demonstrative quest to attest to Palestine’s willingness and ability to partake as a full member of international society today in spite of ongoing Israeli occupation.

Unable or unwilling?: Case studies on domestic implementation of the ICC Statute in selected African countries

Author/s (editor/s):

du Plessis, Max
Ford, Jolyon

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Publication type:

Journal article

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By adopting the Rome Statute and creating a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC), the ideal of ending impunity – so that the most seriouscrimes of concern to the international community should not go unpunished – has taken institutional form. The ideals underlying the ICC require practical instrumentalities and processes not just on the part of the Court, but by allStates in their own jurisdictions. The inability or unwillingness to bring future perpetrators of international crimes to justice would represent a failing of both the international system and of respective national legal systems. This monograph is  concerned with the significance of national level measures and country–ICC co-operation to the effectiveness of the scheme of international criminal justice: it is not enough for states to show by ratification they are willing to co-operate or implement measures, if they do not take the steps to ensure that they are able to prosecute.Tagged as an edited book in Aries but described as a monograph.

Cite the publication as

du Plessis, Max and Jolyon Ford, 2008. ‘Unable or unwilling?: Case studies on domestic implementation of the ICC Statute in selected African countries,’ The Institute for Security Studies Monograph 141: 149.


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