International criminal tribunals and the perception of justice : the effect of the ICTY in Croatia

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13 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the impact of international criminal tribunals (ICTs) on the perception of justice. From the legal perspective, the perception of ICTs as just partly stems from their impartiality in dealing with perpetrators of different nationalities/ethnicities. In contrast, social identity theory suggests that the perception of ICTs as just is determined by the group membership, as people tend to pass more lenient judgments on perpetrators from their in-group. In order to resolve this dilemma, we developed an experimental vignette that manipulated international versus national courts, in-group versus out-group perpetrators and a jail sentence versus no jail sentence. The vignette was embedded in a representative survey conducted in Croatia in 2008 and combines with a natural experiment on the Radovan Karadžić arrest. The findings reveal biased perceptions of justice, conditional support for the ICTY, the dual impact of deterrent effect and the positive effect of the apprehension of war criminals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-495
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Issue number3
Early online date14 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

This project was funded by internal university grants from Newcastle University, UK.


  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • perceptions of justice
  • social identity theory
  • apprehension of war criminals
  • deterrent effect
  • Croatia


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