Why do states of the ‘Global South’ —or weaker states in the international system—request international criminal justice (ICJ) processes for domestic mass atrocities, either by surrendering jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or requesting for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal? In this paper, I argue that the initiative for ICJ processes is a short-term political strategy adopted by Southern state actors to strengthen specific aspects of their statehood. Specifically, I demonstrate how the individualisation of responsibility for, and the criminalisation of, certain forms of violence can de-politicize sub-state competition to power. In addition, I argue that initiating an ICJ process can create paradoxical external agency by establishing the state’s status as a partner in humanity’s collective struggle against mass atrocities. This argument is derived from a novel theoretical framework developed in the thesis, referred to as judicial extraversion, or a theory of strategic action that links the politics of statehood in the Global South and the political opportunities inherent in the nature of ICJ—namely, the individualisation of responsibility, criminalisation of specific forms of violence, and the privileged status of the state in the international criminal justice system. In doing so, the paper highlights the possibility of ICJ as a conservative political strategy that entrenches state power. The paper will examine the empirical cases of Uganda’s surrender of jurisdiction to the ICC, Cambodia’s request for an international criminal tribunal to the United Nations, and the counterexample of Colombia’s establishment of a special domestic criminal justice process for paramilitaries.
I am a postdoctoral Research Associate with the ERC-funded project “Individualisation of War,” at the European University Institute.
My research focuses on the intersection of international law and politics, specifically regarding international criminal justice and human rights prosecutions pertaining to weaker states of the international system. I am interested in understanding the political ramifications of prosecuting individuals for instances of mass violence, such as war crimes or genocide. I also work on the concept of sovereign authority and agency in IR theory, as well as the impact of individualisation of responsibility of violence more broadly in the international system. I have previously conducted research on post-genocide politics in Rwanda.
I have received my DPhil (PhD) in International Relations from the University of Oxford. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Government with honours from Harvard University, and a MPhil in Politics from the University of Cambridge.