Law and Practice of the International Criminal Tribunals
There is wide awareness, though little true understanding, of the work of the international criminal tribunals. The objective of these tribunals – to provide justice to victims of some of the world’s worst atrocities – is an inherently compelling one. The tribunals’ proceedings are followed and commented upon in all world regions. Yet, much of the coverage dedicated to these tribunals is superficial, at best. Terms of art like “genocide”, “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” are bandied about indiscriminately. The distinct mandates, and functioning, of the tribunals, past and present, are largely muddled over. As a result, many conceive of these tribunals as abstract entities, with only an approximate comprehension of the work they carry out or the conflicts that they govern.
This seminar will provide students with a thorough grounding in the law and practice of the international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the International Criminal Court. We will focus on the historical antecedents, creation mechanisms and underlying conflicts that gave rise to these institutions of international criminal law, as well as the principal international crimes and specialized modes of liability that they have prosecuted and developed. Students will engage critically with these issues through classroom discussions and hands-on writing projects involving ongoing topics before the international criminal tribunals.