The Pursuit of International Criminal Justice and the Construction of Victimhood

Ayodele Akenroye​

The Pursuit of International Criminal Justice and the Construction of Victimhood explores the complexities of victimhood in the international criminal justice project especially the construct of good victims vs bad victims; perfect victims vs imperfect victims; women as authors of atrocities or “beautiful souls” incapable of violent behaviour; child soldiers – demons or “pawns of powerful warlords”; etc. which International Law is constantly required to arbitrate as it constitutes victims. 

I argued that while there has been an increase in the attention paid to victims of international crimes, international law’s attention to victims is arguably much older. However, what is new, is the attempt to formalize and legalize the status of victims and the ensuing dilemmas that arise. I argued that it is not simply the case that international criminal law grants victims’ certain rights. Rather, in the process of granting such rights, international criminal law constitutes victims. In doing so, international law is required to constantly arbitrate the complex dilemma surrounding the fundamental nature of victimhood. A certain ‘ideal victim’ is thereby produced.