The scope of international courts and crimes is global and evolving. From the permanent International Criminal Court, ad hoc tribunals, to hybrid courts, there are dozens of institutions prosecuting international crimes and pursuing transitional justice processes. Justice Lab researchers intervene in this field at several levels, (1) The Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia; (2) The Habré trial in Dakar;  (3) Universal Jurisdiction Map; (4) Recent developments of international criminal law

1 - Fighting for Peace


In 2016, Colombia ended 50 years of war with an innovative peace deal that has a novel court at its center. Our project looks at that court. We identify the main challenges that different legal actors face, and examine what methods the court is using to promote accountability. Our focus is on actor practice: how facts are prioritized and established, which participants are included, how procedure is developed, applied, and evolves, how law is interpreted in the investigation, charges, and eventual trials, and the institution’s social impact.

Professors Weill and Carlson have begun this long-term research project and conducted several interviews at the JEP and with other stakeholders in Bogota. We carried out this work in collaboration with researchers and students from Sciences Po Paris and The American University of Paris. In February 2022 Weill and Carlson participated in an international conference in the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá (Colombia), with Justice Lab student Stephanie Borgon.

2 - The Trial of Hissene Habré

An Empirical Study of the Extraordinary African Chamber in Dakar, Senegal

AUP Professors Weill and Carlson in collaboration with Kim Thuy Seelinger of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley and the graduate program of Sciences Po Paris (PSIA) conducted an empirical study of the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar, Senegal, where the Former Chadian President was prosecuted for torture and crimes against humanity. In several field trips with students, they conducted a large number of interviews. The project was financed by AUP’s Schaeffer Center, the French Berkeley Foundation and the Matrix Foundation.

The book The President on Trial, Prosecuting Hissene Habre  was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. It is composed in two parts, where the first is a curated series of first-person accounts of the two-decade attempt to bring Habré to justice and the trial itself. Here, we developed a new methodology, where we try to bring the field to the reader; through the inclusion of 26 first person testimonials we construct the narrative of this long process. The idea was to produce not just our view of how the trial happened, but to provide data for other interested researchers to also theorize their own ideas about the import and function of the trial. The second part of the book is organized around themes and showcases how researchers and academics can interact with the data, the trial, and its historical significance.

The book is a useful textbook for university teachers.


More information:

Theorizing empirical court research: The test case of the trial of Hissène Habré


Reviews and media
Interview at the website of Sciences Po Paris  
Book review by Alexa Koeing in the Law and Society Review (Volume 55, Issue 1, march 2021)  
"The President on Trial is a tour-de-force. Edited by three distinguished international law scholars, the forty-three chapters of this volume are undoubtedly the definitive work on the trial of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers. A must read for any serious scholar or practitioner of international criminal justice." -- Leila Sadat, Professor of International Criminal Law, Washington University in St Louis and Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity to the ICC Prosecutor
"The President on Trial makes an important empirical and methodological addition to the study of international courts. By combining first-person accounts and academic contextualizations, the book provides an encyclopedic account of the construction of a hybrid tribunal to address crimes against humanity committed by Chad's regime as well as a model for how to study new judicial institutions." -- Mikael Rask Madsen, Professor and Director of iCourts, Centre of Excellence for International Courts, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
"In a novel and innovative study, the three author-editors bring the voices of participants to the fore, and in so doing reveal how it was possible to hold a powerful head of state to account for a multiplicity of heinous crimes. It is at once a moving account of a singularly important trial, and a model of scholarship." -- Malcolm M. Feeley, Claire Sanders Clements Dean's Professor Emeritus, Berkeley School of Law



Amnesty International France 

Universal Jurisdiction Mapping 


INTERNATIONAL LAWYER Jeanne Sulzer & International Commission Amnesty International France   

The fight against impunity against the alleged responsible of the most serious crimes gained traction in international debates charting the way forward. While in some countries the perpetrators of those crimes are being judged under universal jurisdiction, in France, this possibility seems to be hampered by several obstacles. Four obstacles hinder the application of universal jurisdiction in France.    France should be no safe haven for those responsible for the most heinous crimes of concern to the international community. International instruments that seek to combat such crimes and ensure that the victims have access to justice include the effective application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.   This project is carried out by the members of the International Justice Commission at Amnesty International France. We are thankful for the support from students, academics, practitioners and civil society organizations. Students from the following institutions collaborated in the project:  




  • Pôle international de la clinique juridique de Lille 
  • HEDGE-Human Rights Clinic at Sciences Po Paris
  • Clinique de droit international d'Assas (CDIA) Université Paris Panthéon-Assas
  • Justice Lab American University of Paris 
  The objective is to create a visual and interactive map of Universal Jurisdiction cases before  French courts (including passive and active personality cases) & identify the legal regime attached, the legal characterisation and any important issue attached to the case in a view to analyze the challenges in the implementation of the principle of universal jurisdiction in France. See “Crapules et Vacances”.



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There are currently over 100 universal jurisdiction cases before the Specialized unit in charge of crimes against humanity and war crimes cases before the judicial tribunal in Paris. 


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4 - Recent Developments of International Criminal Law

Sharon Weill, “Transitional justice: Israel’s escape door from the ICC”, Justice info March 2021

     Asymmetrical Haircuts, international justice podcast: Justice Update – Israel Palestine and the ICC, with Sharon Weill

Kerstin Carlson,

    “What Kabuga’s Arrest Means for International Criminal Justice – and RwandaThe Conversation (blog) June 1, 2020

   “Al-Bashir and the ICC: There are Better Ways to Achieve JusticeThe Conversation (blog) February 16, 2020

     “Why the Gambia’s plea for the Rohingya matters for international justice” The Conversation (blog, with Line Engbo Gissel) January 15, 2020

  “Western states must repatriate IS fighters and their families before more break free from Syrian camps” The Conversation (blog) October 15, 2019

    “Why the Ntaganda Judgment Shows that the ICC Has Found Its Footing” The Conversation (blog) July 16, 2019

      “Al-Bashir and the ICC: Is it worth getting your man, if you sacrifice your mission?” The Conversation (blog) June 25, 2019

    Gbagbo’s Acquittal Suggests Confusion and Dysfunction at the ICC,” The Conversation (blog) January 23, 2019

      “Bemba Acquittal Overturns Important Victory for Sexual Violence,” The Conversation (blog), July 15, 2018

Sharon Weill, “The Situation of Palestine in Wonderland: An Investigation into ICC’s Impact in Israel” in C. Stahn and M. Bergsmo (eds) Quality Control in Preliminary Examination: Reviewing Impact, Policies and Practices (Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2018).