Doing Justice to History: Confronting the Past in International Criminal Courts

ISBN : 9780198846871

Barrie Sander
384 ページ
163 x 240 mm

As communities struggle to make sense of mass atrocities, expectations have increasingly been placed on international criminal courts to render authoritative historical accounts of episodes of mass violence. Taking these expectations as its point of departure, this book seeks to understand international criminal courts through the prism of their historical function. The book critically examines how such courts confront the past by constructing historical narratives concerning both the culpability of the accused on trial and the broader mass atrocity contexts in which they are alleged to have participated. The book argues that international criminal courts are host to struggles for historical justice, discursive contests between different actors vying for judicial acknowledgement of their interpretations of the past. By examining these struggles within different institutional settings, the book uncovers the legitimating qualities of international criminal judgments. In particular, it illuminates what tends to be foregrounded and included within, as well as marginalised and excluded from, the narratives of international criminal courts in practice. What emerges from this account is a sense of the significance of thinking about the emancipatory limits and possibilities of international criminal courts in terms of the historical narratives that are constructed and contested within and beyond the courtroom.


1 Introduction
2 The Struggle for Historical Justice
3 The Prosecutorial Targets Question
4 The Crime Question
5 The Culpability Question
6 Beyond the Purview of International Criminal Judgments
7 Historical Narrative Pluralism Within and Beyond International Criminal Courts
8 Conclusion
Select Bibliography


Barrie Sander is Assistant Professor of International Justice at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs at Leiden University. He has written extensively in the field of international criminal law, as well as on governance challenges at the intersection of digital technology and international law. In 2019, his article, 'History on Trial: Historical Narrative Pluralism Within and Beyond International Criminal Courts', was awarded the Young Scholar Prize by International and Comparative Law Quarterly. He holds a Ph.D. in International Law (summa cum laude avec felicitations du jury) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).