Brianne McGonigle Leyh

Associate Professor of Human Rights and Social Justice
Ultrecht University
The Netherlands

brianne McGonigle leyh portraitI am an associate professor of law, specializing in human rights and global justice issues, with a focus on victims’ rights, transitional justice, social justice and the documentation of serious crimes. My PhD research on victim participation in international criminal proceedings was the first of many research projects examining the implementation of human rights norms in judicial and quasi-judicial institutions.

I delved into the challenges of carrying out complex criminal accountability processes across cultures and languages. It won two awards, including the 2013 book of the year award for the American branch of the International Association of Penal Law.

After completing my PhD in 2011, I wanted to expand my research beyond international criminal law. As a result, I began looking into the role of law and policy in facilitating or hindering greater social justice within postconflict and transitional settings, including criminal courts, truth commissions and reparation processes. Presently, my work predominantly concerns issues around human rights and global justice, namely how compliance and accountability structures can better adapt and respond successfully when dealing with serious conflict situations. Though predominantly legal, I employ a cross-disciplinary methodological approach to much of my research, drawing upon empirical research methods, including interviews and observation, from the humanities and social sciences.

I am currently co-editing a book project, with Julie Fraser, looking at the intersections of law and culture and the International Criminal Court. Questions of "culture" raise important issues for the ICC and its international reach and universal appeal. These questions range from the substantive charges brought against the accused and their defenses, to the operation of the criminal process, the scope and content of reparations, and even the organizational culture that impacts the day-to-day functioning of the court.

However, these questions often remain unaddressed, as culture is so deeply embedded in people's identity and consciousness that strong cultural codes can easily be overlooked or mistaken as objective or neutral by those positioned within their frameworks. The book aims to bring together insights on the development and articulation of ideas regarding the multifaceted ways in which culture relates to the work of the court and provide recommendations to the court as it develops in the future.

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