ISBN: 9781009153119

Morten Bergsmo

Centre for International Law and Research (CILRAP)

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Drawing on Foucault, Weber, Kennedy and Schwöbel-Patel, Clements’ eloquent monograph seeks to ‘foster a strategy of discomfort’ in response to concerted management (speak) in international (criminal) justice. His analysis takes the study of international justice institutions a significant step forward. He is ‘careful not to identify one overarching target for managerial discontent’ (which includes both ideas and practices), but the ‘anti-impunity expert’ should own the political stakes of the work in international criminal justice, making management ‘visible as the continuation of politics by institutional means’. Not an end in itself, a strategy of discomfort should be ‘applied to oneself and not out of expectation that others will too’. ‘Discomfort’, he warns, can coexist with violence that equates to ‘invisibilisation’, refusal to engage ‘incommensurability’ or ‘attempts to authoritatively translate the claims of others’. Such violence can be ‘based on structures of racialisation, patriarchy, and class’, leaving out states or language-groups, such as the Anglosphere which has dominated international criminal justice since the 1990s. Clements’ book is nevertheless indispensable for those who wish to take the study of power in international criminal justice forward. Key actors in international criminal courts may not agree that academics play an ‘outsized role’ in their field, but they have limited time to engage academics. They are often overwhelmed by ‘management’ within the court, and, perhaps more importantly, by inadequate quality control in work-processes. Mediocrity breeds management speak, dims our understanding of real problems, and often leads to requests for more resources. If the court in turn suffers reduced public trust, key staff end up spending time on defence of the institution vis-à-vis states parties, its primary constituency.