The Justice Laboratory: International Law in Africa

The Justice Laboratory is the first major study of the institutions created to enforce international criminal justice standards in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the UN tribunal for the Rwandan genocide.

Book Published 5 April 2022 Updated 29 March 2023

Kerstin Bree Carlson

Associate Professor of International Law, Roskilde University

The Justice Laboratory: International Law in Africa book cover

Since the Second World War, the United Nations and other international actors have created laws, treaties, and institutions to punish perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. But international criminal justice now seems to be a declining force — its energy sapped by long delays in prosecutions, lagging public attention, and a globally rising authoritarianism that disregards legal niceties.

The Justice Laboratory reviews five examples of international criminal justice as they have been applied across Africa, where brutal civil conflicts in recent decades resulted in varying degrees of global attention and action.

Written in an accessible style, the book explores the connections between politics and the doctrine of international criminal law. Highlighting little-known institutional examples and under-discussed political situations, the book contributes to a broader international understanding of African politics and international criminal justice, and the lessons African experiences can offer to other countries.

This book is part of the Insights series.


Praise for The Justice Laboratory

Integrating legal and political analysis, Kerstin Bree Carlson provides a highly accessible and provocative examination of the promises and pitfalls of seeking accountability in a range of contemporary international criminal justice interventions in Africa.

Victor Peskin, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

About the author

Kerstin Bree Carlson is associate professor of international law at the Department of Social Science and Business, Roskilde University, where she teaches topics in law and society, global studies, international politics, and Nordic migration.