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Title: International courts and legal innovation : the politics and practices of interpretation in international criminal law
Author: Stappert, Nora
ISNI:       0000 0004 6501 1480
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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In international criminal law (ICL), legal meaning has been developed substantially through the judgments of international courts. Compared to some of their prosecutorial decisions, however, the way in which international judges have interpreted legal provisions has remained relatively uncontested. This study uses practice theory as a particularly fruitful lens through which to study the politics of legal interpretation. It analyses the conditions under which the creation of a comparatively uncontested judicial space became possible as an interplay between political commitments and the professional assumptions of ICL experts. The study argues that international criminal courts - unlike hybrid courts - have been accorded a particularly high degree of interpretive authority through what will be called the 'practice of privileged precedent'. It traces how this interpretive practice has been shared across institutional settings within a broader interpretive community, including by government officials and civil society representatives. Through this research, this thesis emphasises the relevance of legal interpretation for IR's understanding of international law and international courts. Drawing on legal theory, it also addresses one of the key challenges of IR's practice turn: its capacity to account for the creative potential of international practices. Methodologically, the thesis combines qualitative and quantitative forms of content analysis, elite interviews, and legal interpretive methods. It is based on an examination of over 100 judgments of international and hybrid criminal courts interpreting the crime of genocide and the law of war crimes, including judicial decisions delivered by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). This analysis is supplemented by 28 elite interviews with judges and legal experts at international criminal courts, staff at civil society organisations, and government officials working for the British and German foreign offices.
Supervisor: Hurrell, Andrew Sponsor: German National Academic Foundation ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International relations ; legal interpretation ; International Criminal Court ; international criminal law ; international law