Chris Stephen, "The Future of War Crimes Justice" (Melville House, 2024)


The Future of War Crimes Justice (Melville House, 2024), journalist and war correspondent Chris Stephen takes a colourful look at the erratic history of war crimes justice, and the pioneers who created it. He examines its shortcomings, and options for making it more effective, including the case for prosecuting the corporations and banks who fund warlords. Casting the net wider, he examines alternatives to war crimes trials, and looks into the minds of war criminals themselves through an evaluation of evidence from psychiatric studies. With international law advocates fighting for justice on one side, and reluctant governments unwilling to relinquish control on the other, he sets out to answer whether the world of the future will be governed by the rule of law or might is right.

The podcast begins by exploring what is meant by ‘justice’ in the context of war crimes – whether it is (or should be) a process and collection of rights-respecting investigations and trials, or an outcome (the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of people who have committed the worst crimes) – and then discusses the challenges at the heart of the system of international war crimes justice as it has developed from the post-World War II trials of Nuremberg and Toyko. Chris Stephen discusses the impossibility of bringing leaders of major powers to justice, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, under the current system of war crimes justice, acknowledging the role that realpolitik and national state interest plays in preventing greater engagement with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Alex Batesmith is a Lecturer in Legal Profession in the School of Law at the University of Leeds, and a former barrister and UN war crimes prosecutor, with teaching and research interests in international criminal law, cause lawyering and the legal profession, and law and emotion. Twitter: @batesmith. LinkedIn.

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Alex Batesmith

Alex Batesmith is a Lecturer in Legal Profession at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK. His research focuses on lawyers, their professional self-identity and their motivations, and how these shape the institutions and the discipline in which they work. He has a particular interest in, and practitioner experience of, international criminal law and transitional justice. Twitter: @batesmith

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