The ICTY's impact on Serbia: Judicial romanticism meets network politics

Patrice C. McMahon, David P. Forsythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


It has been widely argued that international criminal justice is necessary for peace and security and that it promotes reconciliation. There have been few attempts to examine these claims with empirical evidence. This article examines the impact of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia on political thinking and behavior in Serbia. It finds that the ICTY has had thus far little direct impact on Serb leaders and political parties, the rule of law, or civic society. What impact the court has had has been indirect, the product of a network of other actors like the United States and the European Union. These network members make reference to the ICTY as they try to manage Balkan politics. This article shows that while internationalized criminal courts may punish certain individuals and develop legal norms and procedures, "judicial shock therapy" is more difficult to achieve. The ICTY has not yet pushed Serbia in a more liberal political direction, which is a foundation for progressive change in the Balkans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-435
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Rights Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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