The International Criminal Court, human rights and intervention narratives

Authored by: Nerida Chazal

The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138931176
eBook ISBN: 9781315679891
Adobe ISBN: 9781317395553


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This chapter explores how the International Criminal Court (herein, the ICC or Court) is constructed as the judicial arm of humanitarian intervention measures and the enforcer of human rights on a global scale. The ICC’s narratives of prevention, which are used as justification for judicial intervention, significantly extend and buttress human rights discourses making them an even more prominent part of international relations and the structure of international society. Discourses of preventing human rights abuses through the threat of judicial investigation, prosecution and punishment fuse human rights to processes of criminalization as human rights abusers are labelled as criminal and pursued via an international criminal justice process. Through this process of criminalization and labelling the ICC legitimates other, more ‘muscular’ (Orford 1999) forms of intervention, such as military intervention. This chapter explores how criminal justice investigations and prosecutions conducted by the ICC are operationalized alongside military interventions using the case study of Libya. This international militarization of justice (Degenhardt 2015) is problematic as powerful countries and entities can construct themselves as heroes (Orford 1999) or saviours (Mutua 2001) who intervene in conflicts under the guise of protecting human rights, while being driven by less altruistic motives such as realpolitik and geopolitics.

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