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Present at the completion: creating legacies at the International Criminal Tribunals

Dittrich, Viviane (2015) Present at the completion: creating legacies at the International Criminal Tribunals. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The rise of international criminal law and the proliferation of international criminal tribunals is one of the most striking developments in international law and international politics over the last two decades. Given the pending closure of the ad hoc tribunals, the question of their legacies has become increasingly topical. This thesis examines the institutional creation of legacies at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Drawing on extensive field research, including over 230 interviews with key personnel, the thesis examines how each of the tribunals responded to the spectre of organisational decline. It finds an array of actors and institutions actively involved in the perpetuation of their international organisations and in the manufacturing of legacies. Incorporating insights from multiple disciplines, the analysis traces, and explains, variation across these processes of social construction. In theoretical terms, the thesis conceives of ‘legacy building’ as an unexamined yet central coping strategy vis-à-vis organisational demise that is aimed, first and foremost, at meaning making. Challenging the common depiction of legacies as objectively measurable end results, the study demonstrates that legacies are actively produced, not passively acquired. This is shown to be so because the impending closure of international organisations raises existential questions –– at both the institutional and individual level –– about their ownership, legitimacy and raison d’être. Accordingly, the comparative analysis of the ICTY, ICTR, SCSL and ECCC reveals a hectic ‘legacy turn’ in the work of the tribunals that resulted in heightened, though not always effective, organisational reflexivity. The analysis contributes to filling an evident research gap in the study of international law. By showing where legacies come from, it challenges conventional, descriptive portrayals of the development of the international criminal tribunals. It unpacks what conventional accounts take as a given: the existence of legacies. But the research findings are relevant beyond international criminal law. They speak to the broader question of how international organisations portray––and perpetuate––themselves upon the completion of their mandate.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Viviane E Dittrich
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Hoffman, Mark and Meierhenrich, Jens

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