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Multifaceted concept of professionalism within the realm of International Criminal Justice

This essay submission delves into the multifaceted concept of professionalism within the realm of International Criminal Justice (ICJ), examining how practitioners perceive their roles, sense of professionalism, and the influence of these perceptions on their everyday work. By exploring the motivations, assumptions, and professional identities of the diverse group of ICJ experts, including prosecutors, victims' lawyers, defense counsel, legal scholars, and evidence collectors, we aim to shed light on the underlying dynamics and tensions surrounding professional behavior in this field. Drawing from sociological approaches, existing literature highlights the hybrid nature of ICJ work, which often intertwines with politics, and the challenges it poses. For instance, the complex political landscape in which these professionals operate might create conflicting expectations and pressures, leading to potential disputes over professional roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, the literature emphasizes the need for cohesion and unity among practitioners, given the global and cooperative nature of ICJ. However, the literature also acknowledges the potential for contestation and fragmentation within their professional identities, which can arise from differences in cultural, legal, and professional backgrounds.


Focusing on three main themes—professional self-perception, the notion of 'professionalism', and the wider impact on ICJ institutions and the discipline of international criminal law—this essay seeks to initiate a conversation about the profession, practice, and role of international criminal lawyers. In examining professional self-perception, we delve into how diverse practitioners view their role in ICJ, exploring the interplay between their personal motivations and their professional identities. We also investigate the extent to which these self-perceptions align or diverge, and how they shape practitioners' understanding of their duties and obligations.


Regarding the notion of 'professionalism', we scrutinize the values, practices, and beliefs that inform this idea for ICJ practitioners, as well as the potential exclusions and unintended consequences of these assumptions. For example, certain definitions of professionalism may marginalize or exclude practitioners from non-Western legal traditions or those with alternative career paths. Additionally, conflicting or ambiguous guidelines for professional behavior might lead to disputes or tensions within the diverse group of ICJ experts. Furthermore, this essay submission considers the impact of these conceptions of professional self-perception and professionalism on the institutions of ICJ, the discipline, and the practice and teaching of international criminal law. By examining how these perceptions influence the development of legal norms, institutional dynamics, and educational approaches, we aim to identify areas where improvements can be made to promote greater cohesion and inclusivity within the ICJ field.


Through a critical reflection on the theme, the essay fosters a dialogue among scholars and practitioners across various stages of their international criminal careers, encouraging the exchange of insights, experiences, and ideas that can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of professionalism in ICJ. In conclusion, understanding the complexities of professionalism within International Criminal Justice is vital to addressing potential tensions and promoting cohesion among its diverse practitioners. This essay submission contributes to this understanding by examining the assumptions, practices, and values shaping professional behavior and identity, and their implications on the ICJ field as a whole. By highlighting areas of potential contestation and fragmentation, we aim to stimulate further research and dialogue, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and collaborative ICJ environment.





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