International Criminal Trials and Societal Responsibility

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Subotić argues that current transitional justice frames fail to deal effectively with 'triple accountability' – that is, accountability at the level of individual, society and state. While criminal tribunals address the first of these and the International Court of Justice has some potential regarding the latter, societal responsibility is a 'missing pillar'. Denial, and a failure to accept moral culpability for actions combining individual and collective through society, are challenged neither by a criminal law response that individualises guilt, nor by transitional justice that avoids the assignation of responsibility to entire communities. Yet, as Kirsten
Campbell observes, the violence that international criminal justice and transitional justice seek to regulate is a ‘fundamentally social activity’, a point reinforced by Malešević’s extended sociological analysis of organised intergroup violence. In turn, the denial and rejection of moral culpability act as an obstacle to a ‘societal reckoning with the criminal past’ (Subotic), while opportunities to neutralize hateful ideologies and generate normative discontinuity with that problematic past are lost. In this paper chapter, I ask whether, in spite of the
individualisation of guilt characteristic of international criminal justice, the material collected and archived in trials at the ICTY provides sufficient resources for a ‘societal reckoning with a criminal past’.
Period11 Sept 2020
Event titleEUROCRIM 2020: 20th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational