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The Responsibility to Protect and the International Criminal Court: Counteracting the Crisis



Staff, Students, Academics

Speaker: Dr Kirsten Ainley - London School of Economics

Series: International Law and Affairs Group (ILAG) seminars

The establishment of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) process and the International Criminal Court (ICC) were seen by many to constitute significant progress in the protection of human rights. However, these institutions are now widely viewed as being in crisis, due in large part to their failure to prevent or prosecute acute and systematic human rights abuses in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.

There have been two types of response to this crisis: the first assumes that the crisis is caused by the current structures of international governance, in particular the power of the Permanent Five on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and calls for radical reform. The second sees possibilities within the current structure and advocates making R2P and the ICC more closely aligned under UNSC control. Dr Ainley argues that both responses are mistaken and set out an argument in favour of refocusing on the complementary nature of each institution. The Court's most successful actions have been in exercising the powers afforded by its complementary jurisdiction in less well-known situations such as long-term negotiations with Colombia over reform of its domestic criminal system.

R2P, like the ICC, works more successfully at preventing conflict and changing expectations of acceptable state behaviour than it does at dealing with situations in which large-scale violence has begun. The article concludes that the policies that would be most productive and viable for the ICC and R2P would be for each to focus on positive complementarity. The ICC should devote more resources to assisting states to build legal capacity in order to deter future conflict through stronger domestic criminal systems (and, by extension, more robust legislatures and more accountable governments), and advocates of R2P should focus less on intervention in live conflict situations and more on building within states the governance standards and levels of development that will enable them to protect their own populations.

About the speaker

Dr Kirsten Ainley is an Assistant Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for International Studies at the London School of Economics. Her research focuses on the history and development of international criminal law, international political theory, human rights and humanitarian intervention. She has published on international criminal law, transitional justice, the International Criminal Court, individual and collective responsibility for atrocity and the notion of evil in international relations.

Recent publications

Dr Kirsten Ainley, (2014) The responsibility to protect and the International Criminal Court: counteracting the crisis International Affairs. ISSN 1468-234

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When and where

1.00pm - 3.00pmWednesday 8th October 2014

AG02 College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB United Kingdom

Contact Details

Dr Ioannis Kalpouzos

Lecturer in Law

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom
020 7040 4122

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