Colonialism, race and international criminal law: rereading the complementarity principle in the situations of Kenya and Libya

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Copyright: Edelbi, Souheir
The complementarity principle that governs the International Criminal Court is a central discourse of international criminal law. It provides a legal basis to prevent international crimes and support accountability in domestic criminal jurisdictions. Thus, judges, lawyers, and academics have come to view the principle as a benevolent instrument of justice and accountability. Several Third World states have contributed to the development of this principle in significant ways. They have reinforced the principle in domestic jurisdictions, but have also challenged its parameters in ICC proceedings. Focusing on the Kenyan and Libyan cases at the ICC, this thesis rethinks the nature and function of the complementarity principle from a Third World perspective. Using a postcolonial practice of reading and textual analysis, it exposes the relationship between the complementarity principle and the legacies of colonial race discourse by highlighting how the discourse surrounding the complementarity principle reproduces Third World states as Other in divergent ways. The thesis develops a single yet dichotomous framework to make sense of how colonial race discourse shapes the complementarity principle and how ICC judges and the Prosecutor evaluate Third World domestic criminal proceedings along lines of racial difference. It raises the possibility of developing a politics of refusal, as opposed to a politics of transformation, through exposing and dismantling international criminal law's Western and Eurocentric form.
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Edelbi, Souheir
Williams, Sarah
Johns, Fleur
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty