The Trauma of Justice: Sexual Violence, Crimes Against Humanity and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia


Campbell, Kirsten. 2004. “The Trauma of Justice: Sexual Violence, Crimes Against Humanity and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.” Social & Legal Studies 13 (3): 329–50.

Author: Kirsten Campbell


This article explores the relationship between the concepts of trauma and justice in the jurisprudence of crimes against humanity of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, focusing upon cases of sexual violence. It argues that the Tribunal’s jurisprudence conceives this crime as a traumatic violation of both the subject of rights and of universal humanity. The Tribunal’s models of international justice as procedure, punishment, recognition and therapy understand justice as the legal suturing of this trauma. In these models, the notion of ‘justice’ functions as phantasy in the psychoanalytic sense of an imaginary scene that veils its impossibility. However, figuring international justice as the resolution of the trauma of crimes against humanity reiterates the traumatic wrong in humanitarian law. Humanitarian law therefore requires a new model of international justice - a model that does not reiterate the past but which can institute the future.

Topics: Health, Trauma, International Law, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2004

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at