From Rwanda to The Hague, via Cambodia: comparative look at 3 ICJ responses

On Wednesday, 24 September, Clair Duffy gave an engaging talk about the politicisation of international criminal justice in three different courts, the ICC, the ECCC in Cambodia and the ICTR in Rwanda. 

Duffy outlined how political interference has affected each of these courts drawing on personal experience and observation obtained by working within and outside the courts in their countries of operation. 

Her insights included a fascinating appraisal of the political and legal context of the ECCC in Cambodia. She spoke about the challenges that have arisen including the difficulty of maintaining legitimacy and authority when the Cambodian government have opposed the court’s existence from the outset and will not place the support of state institutions such as law enforcement agencies and police behind the court and its efforts to obtain witnesses critical to the cases being heard. This example was representative of the political and legal dynamics that plague all of the three courts Duffy discussed although she also highlighted the unique challenges that face the ICC. Created and beholden to the states that control it, Duffy warned that the ICC risks its authority being eroded over time as political compromise undermines the legality of its procedures and the cases it is referred to by the United Nations Security Council. 

Despite these challenges questions and comments posed from the audience also brought to light the opportunities for strengthening the legitimacy and effectiveness of ICJ responses including improving the strategy taken by the ICC and placing responsibility with political actors and not only the judicial bodies themselves for issues that arise in international criminal justice. 



With thanks to Teneisha Bhalla, our Human Rights Defender intern, for summarising Clair's seminar (above).