Over the past few years, we have witnessed a renewed and revived interest in creating hybrid tribunals as a means to address situations of mass atrocity. Hybrid courts have been set up in Kosovo, the Central African Republic, and Senegal (to prosecute the crimes of Hissène Habré in Chad). Others have been proposed for Syria, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, North Korea, and elsewhere. This marks an important development and juncture in the field of international criminal justice, but one rife with questions that remain largely unexplored. It is thus an ideal time for an online symposium with contributions that seek to tackle some of the following pressing questions regarding hybrid courts:
Why has the hybrid tribunal model come back into fashion in international criminal justice — and why now?
What has been learned from the previous generation of hybrid courts and what can be done to ensure that past mistakes and shortcomings are not repeated?
Does an ideal level of hybridity exist in hybrid courts? Is there a ‘goldilocks zone’ for the mixture of national and international elements in any given hybrid court?
How can hybrid tribunals be better insulated from political interference?
What makes hybrid courts resilient — and what helps to ensure that they themselves can contribute to societal and political resilience in conflict-affected states?
Can the independence of hybrid courts be guaranteed by their design?
What advantages do hybrid courts have over other tribunal types — and how can those advantages be amplified?
Against a backdrop of the rehabilitation of the the hybrid model of international criminal justice, Kirsten Ainley, Associate Professor of the London School of Economics, and myself as Deputy Director of the Wayamo Foundation initiated the Hybrid Justice Project. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the LSE Institute of Global Affairs, and organized in conjunction with the Wayamo Foundation, the Project seeks to interrogate the law and politics of hybrid courts as well as develop guidelines on the creation and establishment of hybrid tribunals.
The Hybrid Justice Project has brought together dozens of scholars and practitioners with rich insights into the pitfalls and promises of hybrid courts. Over the next week, a number of these participants will share some of their views and ongoing work on hybrid courts.
As always, JiC’s goal in hosting online symposiums is to create an open, frank, and honest dialogue within a forum that respects the opinions of all participants. And, of course, we always welcome your thoughts and reflections!