Book Review: Clarke’s Fictions of Justice
This edition of our ongoing series of book reviews offers a critical but ultimately positive take on Kamari Maxine Clarke’s Fictions of Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism in Sub-Saharan Africa. This book review is particularly timely, as the recent ECCC verdict in the “Duch” trial reminds us of that court’s landmark decision earlier this summer, which rejected one controversial form of “joint criminal enterprise” liability. Kelly Geoghegan’s review, published in issue no. 42:3 of JILP, takes the opportunity to level her own criticism, or skepticism, at JCE theory.
By Kelly Geoghegan
Fictions of Justice is Kamari Maxine Clarke’s searching anthropological critique of both the international rule of law movement and its flagship tribunal, the International Criminal Court (ICC). Clarke explores the unspoken assumptions, or “fictions,” that underlie this movement, showing that these assumptions privilege Western ideas of justice over African ones and obscure the post-colonial economic forces behind Africa’s turmoil. Ultimately, Fictions of Justice is an anthropological work, not a legal text. Still, the book has potent insights to offer legal practitioners, particularly activists working “on behalf of victims” to achieve “universal” ideals of justice.