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International Criminal Courts and Normative Legitimacy: An Achievable Goal?

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Like any institution, international criminal courts must be seen as legitimate. The ultimate form of legitimacy that they can aspire to is normative legitimacy, meaning that their work is morally valued even when they issue contentious verdicts. Yet how realistic is it, in practice, for international criminal courts to achieve normative legitimacy? This is the central question that underpins this research, which, as its conceptual starting point, uses Mark C. Suchman’s typology of cognitive, pragmatic and normative legitimacy. Arguing that cognitive and pragmatic legitimacy are the building blocks for constructing normative legitimacy, the article concludes by demonstrating how the so-called New Haven School offers an important point of departure for addressing the practical challenges of achieving normative legitimacy.

Affiliations: 1: School of Law, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK,


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