David Kinsella

Date of Award

Winter 3-4-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy

Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 241 pages)


International criminal courts -- History, International criminal law -- Moral and ethical aspects, Liberalism, Human rights




This dissertation in four essays critically examines the emergence of international criminal courts: their international political underpinnings, context, and the impact of their political production in relation to liberal legalism, liberal political theory, and history. The essays conceive of international criminal legal bodies both as political projects at their inception and as institutions that deny their own political provenance. The work is primarily one of political theory at the intersection of history, international relations, international criminal law, and the politics of memory. The first essay questions Nuremberg's legacy on the United States' exceptionalist view of international law and its deviant practice, while the second essay explores the relationship between exploding inequality and the triumph of the human rights movement as well as the costs of international prosecutions to the detriment of transformative politics. The third essay explores the relationship between history and international criminal courts, as well as the limits of their engagement, while the fourth examines the idea of legalism - rule following as a moral ethos - in the context of real political trials.

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