Function and Dysfunction in Post-Conflict Justice Networks and Communities

By Baylis, Elena | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 2014 | Go to article overview

Function and Dysfunction in Post-Conflict Justice Networks and Communities


Baylis, Elena, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


C. Knowledge Sharing and Assistance

1. ICL

Looking beyond the workplace, internationals working in ICL tribunals reported that they tend to share information about their work readily with others in both their local and transnational networks, within the bounds of their professional duties of confidentiality. (82) There is no need, as such, for sharing of information between people working in different tribunals in The Hague, or among people doing ICL work elsewhere and their counterparts doing ICL or ROL work in other settings. The work of the tribunals is largely insular, at least for people involved in litigating the trials. But one does nevertheless see the ready flow of information about work, in the form of chitchat and also of more serious discussions about substantive issues. (83) The voluntary nature of these interactions underlines that they are driven by a sense of community--that is, by a shared interest in a particular set of knowledge and activities, and a shared concern with how that knowledge and those activities should be carried out and what they mean. Although participants can, and do, disagree about the answers to those questions, they agree that the questions are valid and important ones. (84)

As described by interviewees, their interactions span a spectrum from simple news updates to intense debates over the fundamental norms of the field. This wide variety of types of engagement is also characteristic of Wenger and Adler's understandings of communities' ongoing, everyday, multifarious forms of interaction. (85) At the more minimalistic end of this spectrum, some people described their interactions as a way of keeping each other up to date on work-related news, whether transnationally or locally:

   [T]he network that I've created through my work at the tribunals is
   what often keeps me in the loop. It's friends that I've worked with
   at [my previous workplace] or that know I'd have an interest in
   reading the judgment and may have just come across it, or maybe if
   they were sitting in the public gallery, or they're working on the
   case. So I guess that's usually how I get most of my information.
   (86)

   [T]here's clearly a lot of interaction between courts with respect
   to interns, especially ... in The Hague. It doesn't even have to be
   so much that the interns go from one court to another, but they all
   socialize. They quite often share apartments. You'll get people
   saying ... "I heard this from somebody who works at the ICC," or "I
   heard that from an intern at the ICTY' ..., (87)

At the other extreme, some interviewees characterized their conversations as a robust mode of exploring different views on contested questions, debating ideas, and in some instances, creating consensus:

   I think first of all you've got the regularity of the jurisprudence
   or the case precedent being published. People are able to see that
   for themselves. Secondly, there is quite a lot of dinner party
   conversation that goes on where people sit around the table, and
   they'll discuss interesting things that have happened
   jurisprudentially. And there will naturally be an element of, over
   time, meeting of minds. But not immediately. People disagree about
   these things rather violently. (88)

   There's a lot of old colleagues that went to the other
   tribunals.... I mean I've got friends at, I think, every
   international tribunal. And so of course we stay in touch.... [W]e
   talk about soccer, but we also talk about, well, the latest
   developments and have discussions. And there's of course a kind of
   professional exchange about these tribunals, not only about the
   tribunals but also about the law as such, the substance and the
   most recent developments. I would say also in depth discussions of
   how things should run differently, how the law should be, etc. (89)

What all of this meant, at least to some ICL tribunal interviewees, was that they envisioned their role as constitutive of knowledge: that they were not merely carrying out the system of ICL but creating that system, through their actions and through their discussions. …

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