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Doing justice to history - confronting the past in international criminal courts
Barrie Sander
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

As communities struggle to make sense of mass atrocities, expectations have increasingly been placed on international criminal courts to render authoritative historical accounts of episodes of mass violence. Taking these expectations as its point of departure, this book seeks to understand international criminal courts through the prism of their historical function. The book critically examines how such courts confront the past by constructing historical narrativesconcerning both the culpability of the accused on trial and the broader mass atrocity contexts in which they are alleged to have participated. The book argues that international criminal courts are host to struggles for historical justice, discursive contests between different actors vying for judicial acknowledgement of their interpretations of the past. By examining these struggles within different institutional settings, the book uncovers the legitimating qualities of international criminal judgments. In particular, it illuminates what tends to be foregrounded and included within, as well as marginalised and excluded from, thenarratives of international criminal courts in practice. What emerges from this account is a sense of the significance of thinking about the emancipatory limits and possibilities of international criminal courts in terms of the historical narratives that are constructed and contested within and beyondthe courtroom.

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Barrie Sander is Assistant Professor of International Justice at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs at Leiden University. He has written extensively in the field of international criminal law, as well as on governance challenges at the intersection of digital technology and international law. In 2019, his article, 'History on Trial: Historical Narrative Pluralism Within and Beyond International Criminal Courts', was awarded the Young Scholar Prize by
International and Comparative Law Quarterly.
He holds a Ph.D. in International Law (summa cum laude avec flicitations du jury) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).

This book is a well-informed, meticulously researched and incessantly inquisitive contribution to what might be broadly characterised as the historiography of international criminal law. How do international criminal courts go about constructing historical narratives, how are these histories received and what happens to history after its encounter with international law, and international law after its encounter with history? By offering us a series of deft and
sometimes pugnacious answers to these questions, Dr Sander enriches the field considerably.

Gerry Simpson, Professor of Public International Law, LSE

In Doing Justice to History, Barrie Sander moves us well beyond familiar debates over whether international criminal courts (or any courts for that matter) should narrate history, by masterfully and compellingly demonstrating how international criminal courts not only produce but legitimate impoverished historical accounts. While largely skeptical of the many biases of international criminal law that manifest in its history-making, Sander also
suggests the emancipatory potential of approaching the judicial production of history as a site of critical inquiry rather than as an end. Lawyers, historians, and social theorists interested in the law or memory of armed conflict, crimes against humanity, and genocide will want to read this book.

Karen Engle, Chair in Law, The University of Texas at Austin

Milan Kundera writes that we 'pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded,' and it is only when that blindfold 'is untied' that we can 'glance at the past' and discover its meaning. In this book for the ages, Barrie Sander unties international criminal law's blindfold. Sander adroitly shows what sense law can, and cannot, make of history.

Mark A. Drumbl, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University

This book offers an astute account of how history is being constructed in international courtrooms. It shows how historical narratives by international criminal courts are neither static nor final, and it argues that international judgments should not be seen as historical endpoints but rather as discursive beginnings. The book is brilliant in its nuanced approach and convincing through its meticulous argumentation.

Larissa van den Herik, Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University

Keyword Index
International criminal courts.
Country of Publication
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