Professionals and Professionalism in International Criminal Justice

The project aims to develop an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners to share ideas and knowledge about the concepts of professionals and professionalism within the discipline of international criminal justice, as practised at the International Criminal Court, other international criminal tribunals and via domestic international criminal law enforcement by lawyers and related practitioners. The principal outcome sought by the project is to foster greater dialogue, enhance knowledge exchange among relevant stakeholders, and promote best practices and impactful change in the field of international criminal law practice. Over the last thirty years, this area of legal practice has seen extensive professional mobility between practice and academia but relatively little collaboration and dialogue; our project seeks to change this.

School of Law hosts the Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice workshop, 14 July 2023 | School of Law | University of Leeds

Under this overarching aim, the network seeks to bring together academics and practitioners to discuss and co-create impact-oriented outputs, such as guiding principles and policy recommendations. The network seeks to fulfil a need that arises from the challenges caused by widely divergent backgrounds, legal and expert cultures, and professional self-perceptions of the disparate professionals working across these settings. These challenges include a mistrustful and overly adversarial working environment, poor inter-office relations, unhelpful stereotyping, and other practices that result in wasted effort, negative public perceptions of and a legitimacy deficit in the work of international criminal tribunals and those who work within them. The network’s aims will be realised by holding a meeting of the network annually and being hosted by a different University each year, based on the members affiliation. The first meeting of the network will be held in The Hague, The Netherlands, in 2025.

Defining and understanding professionalism in international criminal justice is an issue crucial to practitioners’ day-to-day work and it is an important focus of a growing empirical legal literature. Our network will further develop the themes we explored at a workshop organised at the School of Law of the University of Leeds on 14 July 2023, including: how diverse practitioners (both lawyers and other professionals, such as court experts) view their role and how consonant their professional self-perception is with their personal motivations for working in the field; the values, practices and beliefs that animate the notion of


Presentation of the network project within the context of the international conference on ‘The ICC as Justic Hub, Pragmatic Complementarity and Domestic ICL Enforcement’ at Tilburg Law School, 13-14 June 2024.