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International Criminal Justice and the Democratization of Global Governance

Chris Tenove
University of British Columbia
Chris Tenove
University of British Columbia
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper addresses the convergence of two important normative problems in global politics: the form that democracy ought to take as global governance expands, and the troubled legitimacy of international criminal tribunals for victims of conflict. Drawing on normative and sociological insights from democratic cosmopolitan thinkers, I argue that institutions of global governance ought to be reformed according to the principle of inclusion of those most affected. To do so we must identify the diverse constituencies affected by different international organizations, and we must create processes of representation, deliberation and accountability to make international organizations accountable to these constituencies. Drawing on the democratic theory of John Dewey, I show how transitional justice organizations might promote specific capacities of individuals and groups in post-conflict settings, thereby increasing the possibility for self-governance. To show the pragmatic potential of this approach, I analyze an exemplary institution of global governance, the International Criminal Court. Pre-existing international criminal tribunals offered little opportunity for participation to victims of atrocity crimes. The ICC, by contrast, was designed with formal and informal mechanisms that facilitate the inclusion of victims in Court processes. Admittedly, these mechanisms are working poorly today, and meaningful victim participation will require further democratic reform. Such shortfalls contributed to the loss of legitimacy of the ICC in Northern Uganda, as I will show. Nevertheless, by analyzing the mechanisms of inclusion that do exist at the ICC, we can identify possibilities and obstacles in the democratization of international organizations.