Please note that this session is on Friday.

Can we reliably predict whether the populations affected by mass atrocities will believe in the accounts of the facts and criminal responsibility that are produced by international criminal tribunals? Drawing on research in social psychology and on a series of opinion polls in the former Yugoslavia, as well as on an analysis of the successes and failures of the Nuremberg, Tokyo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia tribunals, this talk will argue that local elite reaction, and not the quality and fairness of a tribunal’s work or the extent of its outreach efforts, is the main predictive factor regarding a tribunal’s likelihood of success. In that regard, a negative reaction by dominant local political, media and intellectual elites becomes more likely if there is a significant degree of continuity with the elites that were dominant in the particular group when the atrocities took place, the more authoritarian the relevant society is, and the greater the perception of the threat that the tribunal’s work poses to the dominant position of these elites. That means that some tribunals, like the Yugoslav one, but not necessarily all tribunals, are from the outset doomed to fail as vehicles of transitional justice, since they would in most instances be powerless to overcome determined local opposition.

Dr Marko Milanovic is associate professor at the University of Nottingham School of Law. He obtained his first degree in law from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law, his LL.M from the University of Michigan Law School, and his PhD in international law from the University of Cambridge. He is Vice-President and member of the Executive Board of the European Society of International Law, an Associate of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, and co-editor of EJIL: Talk!, the blog of the European Journal of International Law, as well as a member of the EJIL’s Editorial Board. He was Law Clerk to Judge Thomas Buergenthal of the International Court of Justice in 2006/2007. He has published in leading academic journals, including the European Journal of International Law and the American Journal of International Law; his work has been cited, inter alia, by the UK Supreme Court and by the International Law Commission. He was counsel or advisor in cases before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Constitutional Court of Serbia.

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The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford. The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and light lunch. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.

The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms in The Old Library, All Souls College, with lunch commencing at 12:30. The speaker will commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00.

Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome. No RSVP is necessary.

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Convenors of the Oxford Public International Law Discussion Group are Patricia Jimenez Kwast and Nikiforos Panagis.

Kindly sponsored by the ILA - British Branch and Oxford University Press.