Lunch seminar with Nora Stappert

The Construction of Legal Authority and the Boundaries of Communities of Practice in International Criminal Law

Compliance with international law is often understood in behavioral terms, relying on a conceptualization of states as unitary actors that either follow or violate legal provisions. This paper challenges such a framework by analyzing the constitutive basis on which decisions on compliance are made. Based on a view of legal interpretation as a set of social practices, it examines the tensions between political and legal officers negotiating legal authority within states and NGOs in practice. As a result, the paper traces the boundaries of the community of practice constructing and re-constituting legal authority in international criminal law by analyzing in how far underlying assumptions on legal interpretation are shared across different institutional settings. Drawing on elite interviews with judges and staff at the ad hoc Tribunals, the SCSL, the ICC and global justice NGOs, and state representatives in Germany and the United Kingdom, it argues that this community of practice includes not only judges and lawyers working at international courts, but also a selection of NGO legal officers, legal scholars and government lawyers. The paper concludes with reflections on how the line between the political and the legal is drawn through the practices of international criminal law.

All interested are welcome to attend. Registration is not necessary.