The Lasting Legacy of Double Standards: The International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council Referral Mechanism

In: International Criminal Law Review
Gabriel M. Lentner Assistant Professor, Department of Law and International Relations, Danube University, Krems, Austria; TTLF Fellow, Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA, USA,

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Common narratives in international criminal law give the impression that the arc of international criminal law is long but bends towards justice. In this article, I wish to challenge this and show that we actually see more of the same. I adopt a consequentialist approach for analysing these issues: what are the real outcomes of the structural changes that happened via the involvement of the UN Security Council (unsc) and are they driven more by power or principle? Through case studies of the two existing referrals of the situations of Darfur and Libya I challenge the progress narrative often implied in international criminal law discourse. I show that through the institutional structure and limitations in practice, the unsc referral mechanism operates as a continuation of double standards by other means and that power influences accountability much more than principle even without direct unsc intervention.

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