Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice: International Workshop

Call for Papers - Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice

The Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (School of Law), the Centre for Global Security Challenges (School of Politics and International Studies)


Dr Ilaria Zavoli (School of Law, University of Leeds)

Mr Alex Batesmith (School of Law, University of Leeds)

Dr Nora Stappert (Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen)

Concept Note

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 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.

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.

Some of the questions we would like to explore with our workshop are:

  • What does it mean to be a ‘professional’ in International Criminal Justice?
  • To what extent do International Criminal Justice practitioners share a sense of professionalism, and how does this shape their everyday work?
  • How do International Criminal Justice professionals perceive the work of their peers? And how does this perception influence any sense of collegiality?
  • How, when, and to what extent do perceptions of professionalism marginalise and exclude? 
  • What (explicit or implicit) tensions exist about guidelines for professional behaviour, especially in a diverse group like that of International Criminal Justice experts which includes, among others, prosecutors, victims’ lawyers, defence counsel, legal scholars, and those collecting evidence? 
  • What unintended consequences do these (potentially contentious) assumptions entail? 
  • How can and should (potentially critical) reflections on professionalism be included within the teaching of International Criminal Law?

Participants, grouped in themed panels, will each have 20 minutes to present their papers, followed by a Q&A and workshop discussion. The workshop is free of charge for all participants, and it will be held both online (on Zoom) and in person (at the School of Law, University of Leeds). A limited number of bursaries will be available to presenters who might not have access to alternative sources of funding. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please indicate this in your submission.

Key Dates 

  • 17 April 2023 – Deadline for the submission of abstracts. Paper abstracts (including name and affiliation) of no more than 500 words and a short bio of 100 words should be submitted to
    Please note: When submitting your abstract, indicate in your email whether you would like to present your paper in person or online. 
  • 14 July 2023 – Workshop Day, School of Law, UNiversity of Leeds.


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


For any queries you might have, please contact the workshop organisers at this address: