Vol 3 No 1

Dear readers,

Diversity and heterogeneity of academic debate is critical to our journal. Our efforts are focused towards creating a virtual academic platform that allows a plurality of young voices to speak about important subjects such as responses to mass violence and international criminal justice. In doing so, we are continuously extending the scope of the journal to cover and engage with critical perspectives on tangential subjects such as human rights and gender. The diversity of our publications is proof that this journal’s scope goes beyond its name. This is not a journal that advocates for or against R2P, but an inclusive intellectual space that allows young voices to critically engage, unpack and make their contribution to some of the most pressing debates in the field of responses to gross human rights violations. 

Such a project would not be possible without interrogating the very nature of human rights. This issue opens with a paper on human rights by Matthew Moore, who argues that the emancipatory potential of human rights is undermined by their liberalism, because enforcing bourgeois, economic rights reproduces coercive relations of production, thus exacerbating structural issues rather than emancipating individuals from them.

Several of the articles in this issue concentrate on the contentious issue of the International Criminal Court’s role in Africa, through critical investigations of the al-Bashir case. Oliver Cotton examines the African Union’s (AU) relationship with the ICC by focusing on the investigation in Sudan. He criticises African governments’ vexation towards the ICC for pursuing cases despite AU opposition based on the AU’s failure to expound the necessity of deferrals in the interest of peace, and some African states’ incompatible and flawed belief that incumbent heads of state should enjoy impunity, given that the ICC was set up to end immunity for mass violence of all individuals under its jurisdiction and remit. 

Margot Tudor and Zeinab Drabu’s articles give two different perspectives on the al-Bashir case and of the charge of racism and imperialism the ICC repeatedly has been faced with. Drabu’s article argues that frustrations often articulated by African states towards the ICC are juridically unjustified, because they stand in opposition to structural limitations imposed by the Court’s jurisdiction as outlined in the Rome Statute. She subsequently argues that existing frustrations are politically motivated, meant to delegitimise the ICC in order to serve the political interests and objectives of the concerned African states. 

In contrast, Tudor’s article sheds light on how colonial continuities within the operations and ideologies of the international justice system have present implications. She argues that there indeed is an anti-African bias and neocolonialism in the structures of the ICC. Additionally, she argues that the historical roots of these imperial legacies and their contemporary double standards have given political weight to those attempting to evade international law, and that current transitional justice processes exclude victims from the production of justice through legalistic and technocratic approaches which present Western approaches to justice as superior, thus divorcing victims from their access to the judicial process.

Lastly, two papers focus on the military intervention in Libya. Heena Makhija uses the Libya crisis as a case study to analyse India’s approach to the principle of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, especially with regard to where it stands in the UN Security Council discussions. Jamal Nabulsi examines the military intervention in Libya too in relation to the future of the R2P. He argues that the R2P is not dead, but that in light of the 2011 intervention “one of its limbs is gangrenous and in dire need of amputation to save the body from infection”, which will strengthen the consensus on and normative force of the doctrine in future atrocities.

We hope that you will enjoy reading the articles we selected for the Journal’s fifth issue.

Georgiana Epure and Kristin Smette Gulbrandsen


This issue was originally published under our previous title, the Responsibility to Protect Student Journal.