Near, far, wherever you are: Distance and proximity in international criminal law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


As the International Criminal Court (ICC) nears its 20th year in operation, many international criminal law practitioners and scholars are asking: where is the ICC today in relation to its original promise to end impunity for the world’s worst crimes? Baked into that question are themes of the court’s distance and proximity, temporal and spatial, professional and existential. Where is the ICC located along the historic ‘arc of justice’ and how might we push it further along that path? How does the prosecutor’s refrain that the ICC is a ‘court of law’ that must keep away from political entanglements affect its interaction with domestic actors? What do practitioners and scholars mean when they encourage the ICC to ‘get closer’ to atrocity situations, whether through better communication, cooperation or in situ proceedings? These questions prompt reflection on the ICC’s distance from, and proximity to, the atrocity space through an analysis of three recent monographs on the ICC and Africa. Reviewing these contributions in law, political science and anthropology, this review essay gauges the multiple planes of distance and proximity on which international criminal law advocates operate. These planes turn out to play an important part in ordering global justice, particularly the spaces and subjects of atrocities as sites of anti-impunity work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-350
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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