Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

Making Crimes Mean: A Normative Analysis of the Acts that Constitute International Crimes

  • C.S. Laverty
Wednesday 14 December 2022
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. C. Stahn


This thesis examines the normative dimensions of the acts that constitute international crimes. It offers a conceptualisation of the normative dimensions of these acts as processes of construction and meaning making. Using the crimes of attacks on cultural property, pillage, sexual violence and reproductive violence as case studies for analysis, the thesis develops an interdisciplinary methodological approach which centralises the narratives and discourses that emerge around particular crimes as central to how they are given normative content in practice. This analysis reveals a diverse, flexible and dynamic normative picture of these crimes, which demonstrates how their normative meanings are not natural or given, but are instead produced through an ongoing process of meaning making that takes place throughout the legal process in a continuum of cases. Understanding the normative dimensions of the acts that constitute international crimes in these terms not only exposes a diversity of interests that transcends their dominant characterisations as violations of basic security rights, but also uncovers the processes through which their normative foundations are constructed and transformed internally through practice. This thesis ultimately offers a dynamic, pluralist and socially constructed account of wrong in international criminal law, which recognises the relationship between criminal wrong and transformations in the wider social and political order, and contributes to developing a more granular understanding of the nature of the representational work that international criminal justice does in the world.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press enquiries (journalists only)

+31 (0)71 527 1521

General information

Beadle's Office
+31 71 527 7211

This website uses cookies.  More information.