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Abstract

A typical view of human rights at the International Criminal Court focuses on international criminal law as a tool to enforce human rights. Much less attention is given to the human rights of those involved with ICC trials. This study reimagines international law’s two classical doctrines of subjects and of sources in a people-centred, rather than state-centric, view. This people-centred view of international law allows for various overlapping bases for the ICC’s human rights obligations to be conceptualised. This study thus establishes the source of these obligations in both treaty law and in general international law, and addresses questions of to whom the obligations are owed, their nature and scope, and responsibility for breaches. Going well beyond simple due process guarantees, this study shows that the ICC’s human rights obligations underlie the totality of its operations. This does not imply that the human rights of witnesses, victims, or other relevant actors at the Court, are unlimited, nor that the Court’s functional context and resource constraints are not pertinent considerations. Law and politics are inevitably entangled at the ICC, meaning that those involved with its trials risk being pawns in a political theatre – a modern form of victors’ justice. Respecting their human rights contributes to repudiating this untenable proposition and ensuring the Court’s legitimacy.

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