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European Institute of Security and Justice Speaker Series

European Institute of Security and Justice Speaker Series “The Responsibility to Prosecute and the International Criminal Court: Justice and Security after the Arab Spring”


Dr. Andrea Birdsall, University of Edinburgh


Date: 22 January 2015, 4 pm


Location: Dalhousie 2F14 (G)


Abstract/Description: The talk addresses the links between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the implications of their developments in the context of Libya and Syria. R2P as well as the ICC focus on the idea that sovereignty has evolved from being an absolute right towards including responsibility towards a state’s own citizens. The primary responsibility to protect a state’s citizens lies with the state itself but should that state be unwilling or unable to do so, then the international community needs to step in and take on that responsibility. This idea was applied in the case of Libya where military as well as judicial intervention was supported by R2P language but intervention in Syria to stop human rights abuses in a similar vein is not forthcoming.


The talk will focus primarily on the Responsibility to Prosecute in these two cases. The principles of ending impunity and holding individuals accountable for their actions are not questioned by the international society, but the main problem is how this can be done in a politically sustainable way. Security Council referral does not seem to be the best option because too close ties with the Council will lead to the ICC becoming a politicised tool, moving further away from what it was designed to do (i.e. universal and impartial enforcement of justice principles).

Dr. Andrea Birdsall completed her Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh on the international politics of judicial intervention. Her main research interests lie in the interplay between International Relations and International Law with a particular focus on human rights, international criminal justice and global governance. Her research focuses on the impact of human rights on national and international security considerations by looking at contentious issues related to the so-called ‘war on terror’. Dr. Birdsall convenes the MSc course Human Rights, Global Politics & International Law as well as the honours courses Human Rights in International Relations and War & Justice. She is a member of the Global Justice Academy, the Just World Institute and the International Relations Research Group.

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