Research

I received my BA from McGill University (2001) and PhD (2011) in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. Then and now, my research agenda has focused on international and transitional justice, with a specialization in the politics of the International Criminal Court.

The International Normative Structure of Transitional Justice (Dissertation and Manuscript in Progress)

The international normative structure of transitional justice is defined by four interrelated norms: a hierarchical division of criminality, accountability, localization, and reconciliation. The primary contribution of this dissertation is to explain the effects of this structure with a comparative analysis of each norm’s salience and implementation. I therefore juxtapose what is expected in principle to what is possible in practice.

The empirical focus analyzes the causal effects of the international normative structure, with the above measures, in Rwanda, East Timor, and the International Criminal Court. Individually, the case studies provide rich contextual detail on how the various norms shaped decision-making and institutions. The diversity in the transitional justice institutions is thus juxtaposed to the consistency in which the norms are salient across the cases and in their implementation challenges, lending credence to the influential effects of the international normative structure of transitional justice.

The International Criminal Court and the Lawfare of Judicial Intervention” in International RelationsSept 2, 2015. (Print issue forthcoming).  

The contentious concept of “lawfare” has proliferated to various foreign policy areas and permeated a discourse on the function and legitimacy of law in conflict. The concept seems particularly apt to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) judicial interventions. In this context, I define lawfare as the coercive and strategic element of international criminal justice in which the ICC’s judicial interventions are used as a tool of lawfare for State Parties and the United Nations Security Council to pursue political ends. I argue that there are two types of political ends being pursued with this lawfare: conflict resolution and politicized prosecutions. First, the ICC’s spokespersons, advocates, and supporting states have cultivated a discourse that justice is a means to peace. As a result, the ICC has been used as a means of intervention in ongoing conflicts with the expectation that the indictments, arrests and trials of elite perpetrators have deterrence and preventive effects for atrocity crimes. Despite these legitimate intentions and great expectations, there is little evidence of the efficacy of justice as a means to peace. Second, the other manifestation of lawfare represents an abuse or manipulation of the ICC for political gain. Specifically, States Parties have strategically referred their conflict situations to the ICC with the expectation that the referral will result in the removal of their rivals and sanction the impunity of ruling elites. This politicization of international justice has been successful in that most of the ICC’s prosecutions are unjustly one-sided. Evidence of politicized prosecutions has damaged the Court’s credibility as an impartial institution, and raises questions about the desirability of state referrals. Consequently, the ICC’s efficacy and credibility are suffering from lawfare.

“The International Criminal Court and the Politics of Prosecutions” in The International Journal of Human Rights. Vol. 18, No. 4-5, 2014: 444-461.  Access

I assess the credibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an impartial and independent institution by demonstrating how state behaviour towards the Court has politicised prosecutions. There are two mechanisms by which prosecutions have become politicised: the referrals of conflict situations to the ICC by political actors, i.e. States Parties to the Rome Statute and United Nations Security Council, and the prospect and degree of state cooperation with the Court. Consequently prosecutions have targeted only one side of the conflict and reflect the strategic political interests of the referring actors but promise a greater degree of state cooperation. The case studies selected here present variation in the nature of referrals and degree of cooperation, making for an instructive comparison and revealing an identifiable pattern of politicisation.

 

“Transnational Advocacy for Accountability: From Declarations of Anti-Impunity to Implementing the Rome Statute” (with Michael Schroeder) in Implementation and World Politics: How International Norms Change Practice. Alexander Betts and Phil Orchard (eds). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.  Info

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the most prominent institutional expression of a norm prescribing that those ‘most responsible’ for committing mass atrocities ought to be held accountable. The Statute requires states to implement a range of legislative and institutional reforms and cooperate with the ICC’s decisions. In this chapter, we investigate this treaty norm’s implementation challenges by focusing on the Coalition for the International Criminal Court —an NGO campaign that combines technical assistance and political advocacy to advance implementation. Consistent with the volume’s theoretical framework, we find that institutionalization and implementation are parallel processes rather than sequential ones. We also argue that an NGO campaign can contribute to implementation by helping states overcome some of the obstacles identified in the framework. However, these contributions depend on the campaign implementing organizational reforms to adjust to the domestic focus of norm implementation.  

“After Arusha: Gacaca Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda” in African Studies Quarterly, Vol. 8 No. 1 (2004). Access.

 

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