Creating a more 'just' order: The ad hoc international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Andrea Birdsall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in light of its potential for creating and institutionalizing justice norms in international society. The theoretical and analytical framework is based on the English School of International Relations and its central conflict between order and justice. The framework integrates a constructivist approach and the 'norm life-cycle' to explain the dynamic process of norm emergence and institutionalization in international society. I argue that establishing the ICTY, despite a number of problems resulting from the way it was set up, constituted an important precedent for multilateral action towards institutionalizing respect for the rule of law and principles of individual justice. This suggests that these norms are being taken increasingly seriously and are being given priority over other fundamental principles of order, such as sovereignty and non-intervention. The ICTY's establishment constitutes a significant development in international politics and law and is evidence of the international society's move towards increased norm internationalization. The ICTY also contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court and the further institutionalization of human rights norms in creating a more just order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-418
Number of pages22
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


  • ad hoc war crimes tribunal
  • English school
  • human rights
  • norm life-cycle


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