Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice

An international workshop on Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice.

This international workshop, funded by the School of Law and School of Politics and International Studies of the University of Leeds, will focus on the professionals that populate International Criminal Justice (broadly understood as mechanisms and initiatives that aim at investigating international crimes) and their assumptions about professionalism, professional behaviour, and professional sense of self within this field. This focus is important as international criminal law’s normative content is ultimately shaped by the professionals that apply and interpret it, and their perspectives and shared practices (e.g., d’Aspremont et al. 2017). Their assumptions and practices surrounding professionalism and what counts as professional behaviour are thereby key, as they not only guide behaviour, but may also be constitutive of a (potentially contested and fragmented) professional identity. Despite the relevance of these professional attitudes and practices, they have remained underexplored in the literature so far, leaving an important gap in our understanding of the (international criminal) legal profession as exercised at the international level.

In recent years, a growing body of literature has used sociological approaches to examine the lawyers and legal scholars that work within and around International Criminal Justice (e.g., Hagan 2010; Lohne 2019; Eltringham 2019; Christensen 2017, 2021). Some scholars have scrutinised the hybrid nature of the work of these professionals (often intertwined with politics) and the challenges it brings to the field of International Criminal Justice (Mégret 2002). Others have considered the need for more cohesion and unity in the work of international criminal practitioners (Kreß 2014). Some contributions have also indicated that the motivations and assumptions within this diverse group of professionals can differ considerably in practice (e.g., Eltringham 2019: 41-44; Batesmith 2021), thereby underlining the need for additional research that investigates such contestations.

This workshop is intended to start a conversation on the profession, practice, and role of international criminal lawyers by looking at three main themes:

  1. The International Criminal Justice professional: How do diverse practitioners view their role? How consonant is their professional self-perception with their personal motivations for working in the field?
  2. Professionalism: What values, practices and beliefs animate the notion of ‘professionalism’ for International Criminal Justice practitioners? Who (or what) is excluded by the notion of professionalism? Is there an ‘us’ and ‘them’ to the professional project?
  3. Wider impact: What is the impact on the institutions of International Criminal Justice, and on the discipline, practice (and teaching?) of international criminal law itself, of these conceptions of professional self-perception and professionalism?

We intend this workshop to be a venue where participants will be able to work together with a critical reflection on the theme of the event. Therefore, this workshop brings together scholars and practitioners across career stages of the international criminal profession, both working in practice and conducting research on the subject.

We aim to publish workshop papers as a special issue in a leading journal in the field of International Criminal Justice.

This workshop is free to attend, either in person or online via Zoom, though registration is required. Lunch and refreshments will be provided to all in-person attendees, and there will be a drinks reception from 18:00-19:00 for all. For any queries about the workshop, please contact the workshop organisers at

Conference Programme:

09.00 - 09.30 Registration of participants and refreshments

09.30 - 09.45 Welcome and Introduction by the Organisers

09.45 - 12.00 Panel 1 – Who are the International Criminal Justice Professionals?

Richard Clements (Tilburg University) - Navigating the Managerial Self: Lifestyle of ICC professional

Mikkel Jarle Christensen (iCourts, University of Copenhagen) - Professionals in and at the border of ICJ

Mario Braakman (Tilburg University) - Professionalism of Expert Witnesses: psychiatrists in ICJ

Gabriele Chlevickaite (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) - Civil Society as an Equal Player in Accountability

12:00 - 13.00 Lunch break – lunch will be provided for all in-person attendees

13:00- 15.00 Panel 2 – Professionalism(s): Practices, Values and Beliefs

Nikki Palmer (King’s College, London) - Impact of lawyers’ self-understanding on practice

Svenja Schwartz (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law) - Professionalism and post-colonialism in ICL practice

Ankit Malhotra (SOAS, University of London) – Searching for Meaning: a Multifaceted Concept of Professionalism

Silke Studzinsky (Head of the Victims’ Participation Office, Kosovo Specialist Chambers) - Treatment of ICL’s victims by lawyers

Morten Boe (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law) - Impartiality in the ICL judiciary

15.00 - 15.15 Tea/coffee break

15.15 - 16.30 Panel 3 – ICJ Professionals in Context: Methods, Impacts and Implications

Nigel Eltringham (University of Sussex) – Professional Legal Identity at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Jens Meierhenrich (London School of Economics) - Practice Tracing at the ICC

Kalika Mehta (Humboldt Universität Berlin) - Strategic Litigation and ICJ: A Taxonomy of Impacts

Amélie Marissal (Sciences-Po, Paris) - Professional role diversity: how closing courts affects career strategies

Elena Baylis (University of Pittsburgh) - Impact of war in Ukraine on ICL practitioner community and on professional self-understanding

16.30 - 16.45 Tea/coffee break

16.45 - 17.45 Roundtable Discussion & Next Steps

17.45 - 18.00 Closing Remarks

18.00 - 19.00 Drinks Reception

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