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This article examines how long international criminal cases take in practice. It considers the cases of all 305 individuals charged at six international and hybrid criminal tribunals (as of shortly before this article's publication). Contrary to the conventional wisdom, on average today’s international criminal cases do not take much longer than comparably complex domestic criminal cases, once the defendants are in custody. Nonetheless, international criminal cases may take too long to achieve the goal of helping to reconcile the affected communities – particularly where a community has abruptly transitioned from an abusive old regime to an entirely new one. Where such communities are concerned, international criminal justice should either increase its pace substantially or instead act only as an oversight mechanism for local justice.


international criminal law, pace, case length, transitional justice

Publication Title

Michigan Journal of International Law

Publication Citation

31 Mich. J. Intl. L. 79 (2009)