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International criminal justice: a counter-hegemonic project?

International criminal law, since its origins, has been mired in controversies and critique inter alia on account of its understanding as victor’s justice as well as its colonial legacy. Some states have challenged the International Criminal Court and its practice on the grounds of selectivity, and the perpetuation of double standards. Additionally, critical scholarship has made a significant contribution in calling out the inconsistencies and deficits of the discipline and practice of international criminal law.

At the same time, international criminal justice has often been understood as a power-critical, perhaps even counter-hegemonic project: Abuses of political and military (much less economic) power are addressed in the language of criminal justice and subjected to the rule of law. Even the most powerful, such as heads of states, can no longer claim immunity and can be held accountable for their actions amounting to crimes under international law.

In order to inquire into both of these sides of international criminal justice – its assumed counterhegemonic capacity on the one hand and its arguably hegemonic structure perpetuated through its practice and enforcement on the other – we invite proposals for papers. More specifically, we invite scholars and practitioners to explore a subject of their choice which relates to one of the following thematic areas:

a) the idea of international criminal justice as a power-critical, counter-hegemonic and emancipatory project, including the role of civil society;
b) the continuation of hegemonic ideas and practices through international criminal law, inter alia through discussions on account of post-colonial, TWAIL, gendered, or critical race theory perspectives; or
c) the future of the international criminal justice project, potentially re-constructing and developing its counter-hegemonic potential – or radically abandoning the project.

Accepted papers will be presented at an international workshop in Berlin (hybrid format – both in-person and remote participation) where contributors will get the opportunity to discuss their doctrinal, theoretical, or practitioner perspectives and constructively engage with a group of scholars with a view to publication. If travel regulations permit, funding will be available to cover travel costs to attend the workshop. Based on the discussions in the workshop, the contributors may modify and revisit their submissions to submit the final versions for publication in an edited collection or a special issue of an international journal.

Abstracts of maximum 250 words should be sent by 15 March 2021 to Yvonne Runzler at specifying author(s), current affiliation, along with a CV (maximum 2 pages).

The anticipated timelines are as follows:

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts – 15 March 2021
  • Abstract selection and invitation to submit full papers – 15 April 2021
  • Workshop – 21 & 22 June 2021 (tbc)
  • Publication – early 2022

Contributions are especially welcome from early career scholars and from scholars and practitioners from the Global South.

The workshop and the publication will be in English; nonetheless, we encourage non-native speakers to contribute as the organizers could, on a limited scale, arrange for editing services or other forms of assistance to facilitate the writing process.

The Scientific Committee is led by Florian Jeßberger (Humboldt-University, Berlin) and Stefan Gosepath (Free University, Berlin) and includes Claudia Cardenas Aravena (University of Chile), Valeria Vegh Weis (University of Buenos Aires), John-Mark Iyi (University of the Western Cape), Miles Jackson (University of Oxford), and Wolfgang Kaleck (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights), as well as Leonie Steinl (Humboldt-University, Berlin), Kalika Mehta (University of Hamburg), Luca Hauffe (Humboldt-University, Berlin), and Felix Koch (Free University, Berlin). The project is supported by a grant from the Berlin University’s Alliance Berlin Center for Global Engagement.

For any further questions, please contact

Find the Call as a PDF here.

Organisation: Freie Universität Berlin & Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Berlin University Alliance)
Deadline: 15/03/2021
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