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International Criminal Tribunals as Actors of Domestic Change

The Impact on Media Coverage, Volume 2


Edited By Klaus Bachmann, Irena Ristić and Gerhard Kemp

Do International Criminal Tribunals trigger social change, provide reconciliation, stabilize fragile post-conflict societies? Many authors claim they do, but they base their assumptions mainly on theoretical considerations and opinion polls. The editors and authors of this book take a different position: based on extensive field research in nine European and African countries, they examine whether tribunal decisions resulted in changes in media frames about the conflicts which gave rise to the creation of these tribunals. International Tribunals hardly ever shape or change the grand narratives about wars and other conflicts, but they often manage to trigger small changes in media frames which, in some cases, even lead to public reflexion about guilt and responsibility and more awareness for (the respective enemy's) victims. On an empirical basis, this book shows the potential of International Criminal Justice, the possibilities, but also the limits of International Criminal Tribunals. Volume 2 presents the evidence from Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan.

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Frames from Sudanese media concerning the conflict in Darfur



On 31 March 2005, the United Nations Security Council referred the situation in Sudan (which, at that time, still included South Sudan) to the International Criminal Court. In June, the ICC prosecutor (then Luis Moreno Ocampo) decided to open an investigation, which finally led to a number of arrest warrants issued between 2007 and 2012,1 the most prominent case being the indictment and arrest warrant against the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir. All these arrest warrants concerned the conflict in Darfur, which then and now constitutes a part of Sudan. They were not connected to the other conflicts which have been ravaging parts of the country during the last 15 years, although these conflicts impacted upon the conflict in Darfur (and vice versa) at various moments.

In this chapter, we examine whether crucial decisions taken by or connected to the ICC triggered shifts in Sudanese media frames. We decided to choose three decisions, one of which was closely connected to, but not issued by, the ICC – the UNSC referral of 2005, which was a turning point in the relationship between the UN and the ICC on the one hand and the Sudanese government on the other hand. The referral was formally based on the finding of the International Commission of Inquiry on violations of the international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur (ICID), which the UNSC had mandated to investigate human rights violations in Darfur. The report’s conclusions...

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