Oxford Doctoral Panel

Who is Calling the Shots in International Criminal Justice?: Exploring the Role of Judges, Prosecutors and Victims’ Institutions


The Rome Statute and its Prosecutorial Actors: Equal Brothers in Arms? 

Speaker: Matilde Gawronski, PhD in Socio-Legal Studies


In this paper I present a socio-legal analysis of the effective prosecutorial agents of the Rome Statute system. I start from the premise that the Rome Statute system was set up to produce pragmatic justice through the different institutional avenues at its disposal by virtue of the complementarity framework, which endows both the ICC and the State with the ability to produce ‘global justice’ through the methods of ‘trial justice’. I argue that although the Rome Statute system was established to work as an ‘integrated’ system to produce ‘comprehensive’ justice, in the words of former Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, these are claims that need to be empirically tested. A valuable starting point to this analysis is to understand who the actors tasked with producing trial justice effectively are. I argue, in fact, that despite the theoretical, common legal and epistemological framework and ethos under which the ICC and the State are called to operate as complementary and thus seemingly ‘equal’ prosecutorial justice producers, in reality they are very differently able actors. It is therefore to be expected that, in light of their intrinsic difference, although under the same overall international justice project, they might actually produce justice in very different ways and with different outcomes. In this seminar I present therefore my analysis of such difference between the State and the ICC as the prosecutorial actors that compose the effective complementary structures of the Rome Statute system. I do so on the basis of three dimensions: a formal one, an existential one and a physical one (focusing in particular on this latter one). I ask in the end: Are the ICC and the State effectively equal brothers in arms? Does the difference between them matter for the project of the Rome Statute? And if so, how? In my analysis I refer to examples from the situation of Uganda. 


International Criminal Courts and Tribunals and the Spread of Ideas: Developing the Law of War Crimes and the Crime of Genocide

Speaker: Nora Stappert, PhD in International Relations, DPIR


Since the establishment of the ICTY and the ICTR, international criminal law has been developed significantly by the judicial decisions of international courts and tribunals. This presentation explores where the ideas and legal concepts that were incorporated into these decisions originate and how they have spread across the fragmented institutional framework of international criminal law. Drawing on an analysis of international judgements on the elements of war crimes and expert interviews with judges and legal officers, it suggests that some actors have been able to contribute more to the development of legal meaning than others. In particular, it will argue that in the practice of legal interpretation, especially the views of legal practitioners and academics has been more influential than the traditional sources discourse suggests. The presentation therefore challenges a conventional understanding of international adjudication by providing insights into the practice of the development of normative meaning in international criminal law.


Can Reparations transform Societies? The Practice of ‘Transformative Justice’ at the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Speaker: Leila Ullrich, PhD in Criminology, Faculty of Law


The ICC is the first international criminal justice institution that promises to bring ‘justice to victims’ through victim participation, reparations and assistance.  This paper explores how a new concept has come to inform the ICC’s and the Trust Fund for Victims’ (TFV) approach to victim assistance and reparations: the concept of transformative justice. While ‘transformative justice’ is not entailed in the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Reparations, it can be seen as the logical offspring of the guarantees of non-repetition. Yet, the concept also poses new challenges to defining the boundaries and purpose of reparations at a time when the ICC is beginning to implement its first reparation order in the Lubanga case. Based on my fieldwork both in The Hague and in Uganda, I will explore how this concept has shaped the TFV’s assistance programmes in Northern Uganda which will give us interesting insights into the challenges that the ICC’s reparations programmes are likely to encounter. While the critique of transformative justice has focused on the ICC’s limited capacity and the question of whether ‘transforming societies’ is or should be part of the ICC’s mandate or not, I will argue that there are more fundamental problems characterizing its practice on the ground: first, it ignores that there are very different visions of how a transformed society should look like in Northern Uganda and second, even though transformative justice sets out to address structural conditions, in practice it shifts the responsibility of 'transformation' from the state to the individual victim: in the final analysis, it is the victim and not the state, the community, the economy or the international community that has to do the transformation.