Programme conference ‘Pluralist Approaches to International Criminal Justice’ (7-8 January 2016)

Day I – Thursday, 7 January 2016

9:30 – Registration and coffee

10:00 – Welcome and introduction

  • Elies van Sliedregt, Leeds University/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Sergey Vasiliev, Leiden University

10:30Panel I: International Criminal Law Meets Legal Pluralism
The panel highlights interfaces between international criminal law and theories of legal pluralism and reflects on pluralism as a conceptual framework and research agenda.

Chair: Geoff Gordon, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • James Stewart, The University of British Columbia: “The Ahistoricism of Legal Pluralism in International Criminal Law”
  • Cassandra Steer, McGill University: “The Construction of International Criminal Law as Legal Patchworking”
  • Sergey Vasiliev, Leiden University: “Plural Pluralisms of International Criminal Law”

12:00 – Lunch

13:00 – Panel II: Institutional pluralism and ICL enforcement: Promises and challenges
The panel examines the institutional aspect of pluralism in ICL, as seen from the multiplicity of domestic, regional, and international forums in which it is enforced. The co-existence and interaction of the different tiers of enforcement raises issues of overlapping and conflicting jurisdiction, interpretive coordination, and courts’ impact on each other’s authority and effectiveness.

Chair: Shehzad Charania, British Embassy, The Hague

  • Alex Whiting, Harvard University: “Is the ICC threatened by Proliferation of Criminal Courts?”
  • Robert Cryer, Birmingham University: “ICC and Domestic Courts: Is Complementarity Working?”
  • Phil Clark, SOAS: “Distant Justice: The ICC and the Reality of Complementarity in Central Africa”

14:30 – Coffee break

14:45 – Panel III: ICL as a legal-cultural hybrid: Pluralism at the origin, coherence in output?
The panel addresses the ‘legal-cultural pluralism’ of ICL and examines the functions of comparative approach in ICL; in particular whether the efforts to create, through legal hybridization, a coherent system in its own right have been successful.

Chair: Caroline Fournet, University of Groningen

  • Megan Fairlie, Florida International University: “Procedural Hybridization and Due Process”
  • Elinor Fry, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: “Specificity of International Criminal Indictments: Towards Common Pleading Standards?”

16:15 – Panel IV: International Criminal Law’s identities and normative pluralism: Continuity or Break?
The panel looks at the multiple identities international criminal justice claims to itself and how ‘normative pluralism’ translates into ideological tensions at the heart of ICL. Since ICL’s relationship with the principles of liberal criminal justice—legality, personal culpability, and fair trial—has been rather conflicted, the enterprise may be seen as a break with domestic tradition of criminal law, rather than its continuation.

Chair: Cecilia M. Bailliet, University of Oslo

  • Darryl Robinson, Queen’s University: “The Plural Foundations of Fundamental Principles”
  • Carsten Stahn, Leiden University: “Normative identities of the ICC”
  • Emily Haslam, University of Kent, “International Criminal Law and the Moral Identity of Victimhood: Representation, ‘Tribes’ and Plural Subjects”

17:45 – Drinks

DAY II: Friday, 8 January 2016

9:00 – Coffee

9:30 – Panel V: The Role of Courts in Furthering Convergence (or Fragmentation) of International Criminal Law
The panel highlights the role of courts in ensuring the normative unity of ICL and/or deepening its (apparent) fragmentation. It focuses on common techniques of judicial dialogue and considers the implications of the recent schisms between different tribunals and chambers for the coherence and authority of ICL.

Chair: Wouter Werner, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Marjolein Cupido, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: “The Impact of the Casuistic Method on Uniformity and Pluralism of Substantive International Criminal Law”
  • Lachezar Yanev, Tilburg University: “Judicial Dialogue in International Criminal Law: The Case of Attribution Doctrines”
  • Harmen van der Wilt, University of Amsterdam: “Legal reactions to terrorism: between criminal law enforcement and application of IHL”

11:00 – Coffee break 

11:15 – Panel VI: Ordering the Messy Reality through ICL?
The panel focuses on the challenges to ICL’s hegemonic claims and resistance international criminal justice faces whenever it seeks to order and have an equal impact on incommensurable socio-cultural environments. As the validity of its premises and effectiveness of its methods come to be questioned, ICL grows to be more pluralized and more sensitive to the context, whereby its unity is diluted by the very realities it purports to control.

Chair: Wouter Veraart, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Nicola Palmer, King’s College London: “The Place of Pluralism in International Criminal Justice: Reflections from Rwanda”
  • Sarah M.H. Nouwen, University of Cambridge: “Is ICL a Challenge to Human Diversity?”
  • Asad Kiyani, The University of British Columbia: “Pluralism, Hegemony, and International Criminal Law”

12:45 – Summing up and closing remarks

  • Elies van Sliedregt, Leeds University/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

For substantive queries, please contact Sergey Vasiliev (s.vasiliev [at] For other issues: cicj [at]





With the financial support of