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Book Review: Clarke’s Fictions of Justice

This edi­tion of our ongo­ing series of book reviews offers a crit­i­cal but ulti­mate­ly pos­i­tive take on Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s Fic­tions of Jus­tice: The Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court and the  Chal­lenge of Legal Plu­ral­ism in Sub-Saha­ran Africa. This book review is par­tic­u­lar­ly time­ly, as the recent ECCC ver­dict in the “Duch” tri­al reminds us of that court’s land­mark deci­sion ear­li­er this sum­mer, which reject­ed one con­tro­ver­sial form of “joint crim­i­nal enter­prise” lia­bil­i­ty.  Kel­ly Geoghegan’s review, pub­lished in issue no. 42:3 of JILP, takes the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lev­el her own crit­i­cism, or skep­ti­cism, at JCE the­o­ry.

By Kel­ly Geoghe­gan

Fic­tions of Jus­tice is Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s search­ing anthro­po­log­i­cal cri­tique of both the inter­na­tion­al rule of law move­ment and its flag­ship tri­bunal, the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). Clarke explores the unspo­ken assump­tions, or “fic­tions,” that under­lie this move­ment, show­ing that these assump­tions priv­i­lege West­ern ideas of jus­tice over African ones and obscure the post-colo­nial eco­nom­ic forces behind Africa’s tur­moil. Ulti­mate­ly, Fic­tions of Jus­tice is an anthro­po­log­i­cal work, not a legal text. Still, the book has potent insights to offer legal prac­ti­tion­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly activists work­ing “on behalf of vic­tims” to achieve “uni­ver­sal” ideals of jus­tice.

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