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

The workshop was the first of a series of future events and international collaborations intended to start a conversation on the profession, practice and role of international criminal lawyers.

On Friday 14 July, academics from the Legal Professions Research Group in the School of Law, Dr Ilaria Zavoli and Mr Alex Batesmith, co-hosted an international workshop ‘Professionals and Professionalism(s) in International Criminal Justice’ with Dr Nora Stappert from the University of Copenhagen’s Center of Excellence on Global Mobility Law.

Funded by the School of Law and School of Politics and International Studies of the University of Leeds, the workshop brought together fifteen scholars and practitioners in the fields of international criminal justice, sociology, international relations and psychology from Europe, North America and Asia. Academics and postgraduate students from within the University and other UK institutions attended in person and many more participated online from around the world.

The co-hosts opened the day by reflecting on the three core themes of the workshop, which corresponded to the three panels taking place throughout the day.

The first panel, ‘The international criminal justice professional: How do diverse practitioners view their role?’, welcomed Dr Richard Clements (Tilburg University), Professor Mikkel Jarle Christensen (iCourts, University of Copenhagen), Professor Mario Braakman (Tilburg University) and Dr Gabriele Chlevickaite (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam).

After lunch, the workshop heard from Dr Nicola Palmer (King’s College London), Dr Svenja Schwartz (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law), Mr Ankit Malhotra (SOAS), Ms Silke Studzinsky (Legal Advisor to the Commission for Investigation and Gathering Evidence of ISIS crimes in Dohuk, Kurdistan) and Dr Morten Boe (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law), who addressed the second theme of the workshop, professionalism and the animating values, practices and beliefs that underlie this concept.

The final panel, addressing the wider impacts of multifaceted conceptions of professionalism and professional self-perception on the institutions of international criminal justice, and its discipline, practice and teaching, welcomed Dr Kalika Mehta (Humboldt Universität, Berlin), Dr Amélie Marissal (Science-Po, Paris), Dr Karen McGregor Richmond (iCourts, University of Copenhagen) and Professor Elena Baylis (University of Pittsburgh).

A concluding roundtable led by the co-hosts summarised future plans, starting with a proposal for the editing of a special issue of a leading academic journal to disseminate the papers that were presented at the workshop.

Speakers and attendees engaged in a constructive dialogue on the scope of future events and discussions in Leeds and beyond, including public engagement and knowledge exchange programmes with practitioners and policymakers, as well as strengthening the network and developing new collaborations in the field of professionalism generated by the fruitful discussions during the day’s workshop.

“We argue that this focus on practitioners is important because 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,” said Dr Ilaria Zavoli.

It was testament to the relevance of our themes that we were able to attract so many excellent international scholars and thought leaders in the field of legal professionalism to our workshop here in the School of Law

Mr Alex Batesmith

“We are very much looking forward to deepening our collaborations with colleagues from far and wide who contributed so generously to the workshop discussions on professionals in international criminal justice – we were particularly pleased to welcome such a diversity of academic and practitioner participants, making this a truly international and interdisciplinary event.”