Acceptance of International Criminal Justice

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Exploratory projects

The acceptance team asked research fellows to develop research projects aiming at exploring different dimensions of acceptance in relation to a particular actor or situation.   


The Cambodia project examines the acceptance of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) focusing in particular on the reactions to the first verdict imposed by the ECCC. In 2010, the Appeals Chamber sentenced Kaing Guek Eav alias ’Duch’, a high ranking official of the former Khmer rouge regime, to life imprisonment. Thereby, the Appeals Chamber overruled the Trial Chamber’s initial sentence of 35 years imprisonment. The first sentence had led to objections amongst the victims who considered it as too weak. 

The project focuses on legal, political and moral aspects of acceptance and further considers how reactions of international observers influenced national actors. It starts with the assumption that ECCC outcomes are influenced by the interests of the stakeholders.

It primarily seeks to understand how the ECCC arrived at its verdicts through exploring, besides legal arguments, the motivations around the reversal of the ECCC’s first verdict and whether consensus or dissent arose between local and international judges. Focusing on the hybrid nature of the ECCC which is built around converging interests, the study addresses two main questions. First, what is the ECCC’s mandate besides ensuring accountability and how does the hybrid nature of the court indicate acceptance of international criminal justice? Second, the study focuses on the acceptance of the outcome and the perception by different actors. It explores different perceptions of justice, expectations and reactions, which may indicate the acceptance or resistance of the ECCC. The project examines how different groups, such as civil society organizations, legal professionals or victim groups accept or not accept international criminal justice by analyzing their reactions to the verdict.

You can find the chapter here.


The Kenya project explores the acceptance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Kenya. It commences with the assumption that the dynamics of the acceptance of international justice in Kenya depend on the individual interests of political elites and current dominant discourses occasioned by political manoeuvring parallel to formal or legal compliance. 

Furthermore, the actual acceptance of the ICC in Kenya can be observed and understood within three different phases: post conflict phase; post ICC indictment phase and trial phase. The purpose of this research project is therefore to assess the changing perceptions of the acceptance of international criminal intervention in Kenya. The project investigates how acceptance has changed over time and how the dominant discourse on international criminal justice is shaped by the interests of political elites. 

Based on interviews with Kenyan politicians and members of civil society, as well as participant observations of political rallies, the project focuses on two dimensions of acceptance. On the one hand, international criminal justice is formally and legally accepted, which is visible in the official actions, such as the ratification of the Rome Statute, passing its implementing legislation and cooperating with the ICC. On the other hand, however, politicians’ discourses have changed since the ICC intervened in 2010, following Kenya’s inability and unwillingness to prosecute the 2007/8 Post Election Violence crimes. 

The project analyses how acceptance shifted over time since the crimes took place between 2007/8 to the elections in 2013, during which two of the accused won the elections and became President and Vice- President respectively.

You can find the chapter here.


The Kosovo project investigates the legal acceptance of international criminal justice in Kosovo. While Kosovo is not a fully recognized State and thus unable to ratify the Rome Statue and other international instruments, it nevertheless incorporated international criminal norms and principles into its domestic legislation. 

The project focuses on the named process of domestication and examines if the indicated strong legal acceptance also indicates the acceptance by the actors involved in the process. It looks at acceptance of international criminal justice through fragmented domestication in the context of a post war society and state-building process. The project seeks to understand whether there was a pattern or a strategy related to the time and context in which international criminal justice norms and principles were introduced into the domestic legal system. In Kosovo, the international crimes prosecution and adjudication has been until recently the exclusive competence of international actors and the legislative process took place under the close mentorship of the international community. Thus, it is interesting to understand the role and awareness of the national actors involved in the legislative process and whether there was articulated intention for such a system to be created.

You can find the chapter here.


The Nigeria project examines the acceptance of international criminal justice in Nigeria. The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to initiate preliminary examinations concerning the situation in Nigeria, as the ICC is concerned with possible committed crimes against humanity attributable to Boko Haram. The project focuses on the process of the domestication of the Rome Statute into Nigerian law, which in itself could be interpreted as a sign of willingness by the Government to cooperate with international criminal justice mechanisms. Furthermore, it seeks to understand if legal compliance is an indication of acceptance and whether acceptance of international criminal justice in Nigeria is a myth or a reality.

Acceptance is therefore defined as the “convergence of legal, political, cultural and social interests in the usage and application of international criminal justice”. While the main focus is on the acceptance by the government, the project also considers how the actions of other groups, such as officials, legal practitioners, victims, survivors and the general public influence the government’s acceptance.

You can find the chapter here.


The Serbia project deals with the acceptance of international criminal justice in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. The research is based on the perceptions of acceptance by the local population. It does not focus on whether or not the process of acceptance took place, but how international criminal justice is perceived within the society. It focuses on the narratives of the local population, specifically members of the Croatian minority, former refugees from Croatia and war veterans. Is seeks to understand how the population defines acceptance within its social, cultural and political dimensions. 

The project uses frame analysis to understand whether or how the local population in northern Serbia accepts international criminal justice, particularly the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Acceptance is defined as “a set of deliberate actions or perceptions of such actions, taken by actors to embrace the obligations of international criminal justice.” Through identifying different frames, the project seeks to understand if and how group identity shapes the acceptance of international criminal justice and what role personal memories and official narratives play in these processes. The project uses ethnographic research and key informant interviews.


The Ukraine project focuses on the acceptance of international criminal justice by the Ukrainian Government. This is an interesting question insofar as Ukraine has not yet ratified the ICC Rome Statute but has granted the ICC ad hoc jurisdiction in order for it to initiate preliminary examinations on events that have taken place on the territory of Ukraine since February 20, 2014. Moreover, as the ICC examinations take place in a context of ongoing conflict, the project sheds light on how regional power relations influence the Government’s decisions with regard to international criminal justice. The study raises two main questions. First, to what extent the Ukrainian Government accepts international criminal justice provisions and institutions and second, which factors influence the decisions of the Government with regard to international criminal justice. The project counts on media analysis, NGOs studies as well as interviews with Ukrainian academics and politicians. 

Acceptance is understood in relation to the ongoing peace process and regional politics which affect the acceptance of international criminal justice. The decision not to ratify the Rome Statute is presumed to be due to both the Government’s fears of upsetting regional political antagonists, as well as certain misconceptions concerning international criminal justice.

You can find the chapter here.