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Culture under Cross-Examination
International Justice and the Special Court for Sierra Leone

$149.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

  • Author: Tim Kelsall, Africa Power and Politics Programme, Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center
  • Date Published: November 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521767781

$ 149.00 (C)
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About the Authors
  • The international community created the Special Court for Sierra Leone to prosecute those who bore the greatest responsibility for crimes committed during the country's devastating civil war. In this book Tim Kelsall examines some of the challenges posed by the fact that the Court operated in a largely unfamiliar culture, in which the way local people thought about rights, agency and truth-telling sometimes differed radically from the way international lawyers think about these things. By applying an anthro-political perspective to the trials, he unveils a variety of ethical, epistemological, jurisprudential and procedural problems, arguing that although touted as a promising hybrid, the Court failed in crucial ways to adapt to the local culture concerned. Culture matters, and international justice requires a more dialogical, multicultural approach.

    • As the first book-length study of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, it provides a narrative overview of a historically important 'hybrid' tribunal
    • Anthro-political study provides a new approach to international trials
    • Discusses jurisprudential, procedural, ethical and epistemological issues, and will appeal to lawyers, transitional justice experts, legal anthropologists, students of African studies and philosophers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… relevant and important … Kelsall's book makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the SCSL and of the social and legal context in which it operated.' Rachel Kerr, International Journal of Transitional Justice

    'Kelsall's account is well-balanced and highlights the strategies of prosecution and defence as well as the political dimension of the trial, which was highly controversial in Sierra Leone.' Gerhard Anders, African Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521767781
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. White man's justice? Sierra Leone and the expanding project of international law
    2. The story of the CDF trial
    3. An unconventional army: chains of command in a patrimonial society
    4. Facts, metaphysics and mysticism: magical powers and the law
    5. We cannot accept any cultural consideration: the child soldiers charge
    6. 'He's not very forthright': finding the facts in a culture of secrecy
    7. Cultural issues in the RUF, AFRC, and Charles Taylor trials
    8. Conclusion: from legal imperialism to dialogics.

  • Author

    Tim Kelsall, Africa Power and Politics Programme, Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center
    Tim Kelsall works as an Associate of the Africa, Politics and Power Programme and as a Visiting Fellow at the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center based in Phnom Penh. In the past he has taught Politics at the universities of Oxford and Newcastle and has been an editor of the journal African Affairs.

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