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Are International Criminal Courts believable?

Marko Milanovic lectures on courting failure and its credibility

Deakin Law School (DLS) invites you to take part in an insightful seminar on the workings of International Criminal Courts, delivered by Marko Milanovic.



The primary role of international criminal courts and tribunals is to prosecute individuals such as political leaders and military leaders who are responsiblefor war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. But beyond dispensing individualised justice, the question still remains whether such tribunals can also help deeply traumatised and divided societies heal on a more fundamental level. To do that, the factual accounts these tribunals produce – about the guilt of specific individuals for specific crimes, but also about the systemic nature and causes of these crimes – need to be accepted by their local audiences. If the local population rejects an international tribunal’s findings about crimes and about their perpetrators then healing is still as far away. Even if a perpetrator is jailed for life, the tribunal process will still, in the bigger picture, have failed.

Associate Professor Marko Milanovic of the University of Nottingham School of Law will outline a general predictive theory to forecast when an international criminal court or tribunal is doomed to fail. His work draws on research in social psychology and on a series of opinion polls in the former Yugoslavia, and more widely on an analysis of the successes and failures of the postwar Nuremberg and Tokyo processes, as well as of the more recent Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia criminal tribunals.