Judges, Lawyers, and the Practices of Interpretation in International Criminal Law


Conducted by Dr Nora Stappert, the project will run between September 2018 and August 2020. It is funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie action, Individual Fellowship).

International criminal courts and tribunals have developed international criminal law significantly, both with regard to its substantive and its procedural rules. Examples of such developments range from the interpretation of the law of war crimes to the law of command responsibility, a form of liability in international criminal law. What is the broader relevance of these interpretive developments in global governance more generally? And, more specifically, how and with which effects have the judgements of international criminal courts and tribunals contributed to the development of legal meaning in international criminal law?

To answer these questions, the project proceeds in two steps. First, it investigates how exactly this interpretive development has occurred across different international criminal courts and tribunals, and most recently the International Criminal Court (ICC). To do so, the project draws on International Relations theory and legal theory to examine how judges respond to the potential for innovation in the interpretation of international criminal law.

Second, the project enquires into the broader relevance of this interpretive development. To do so, it asks how the judgements of international criminal courts and tribunals have been received, disseminated, and potentially re-interpreted outside of the specialised context of international courtrooms. Specifically, the project explores empirically how a broader interpretive community including state officials and staff at non-governmental organisations engages with these judgements. Methodologically, the project draws on a combination of qualitative and quantitative forms of content analysis, network analysis, qualitative interviews, and legal interpretive methods.

For any questions about the project, please contact Dr Nora Stappert (nora.stappert@jur.ku.dk).

Danish National Research Foundation

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions


Expert Rule? Judges, Lawyers, and the Practices of Interpretation in International Criminal Law

European Commission Grant Agreement No. 748114  – EaRL – H2020-MSCA-IF-2016/H2020-MSCA-IF-2016