Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures



First Advisor

Erik W Doxtader


In this thesis, I argue that the 1990-1994 deliberations within the International Law Commission (ILC) set the stage for the current debates over the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Centered on preliminary debates which preceded and paralleled the Balkan and Rwandan atrocities of the early 1990's, this study contests the idea that the ICC was created as an instinctive response to the commission of these crimes. In its place, I contend that the legal rules and categories that created the ICC emerged out of willful, sustained, and contested deliberations over the court's purpose, power and form. Working through the themes of faith, promise, and the (de)politicization of political crimes, I plot the formation of these grounds as they materialize in ILC debates over illicit drug trafficking, international criminal law, and the jurisdiction of the envisioned court. In doing so, I aim to show that: 1) legitimacy is a rhetorical practice dependent upon the continuous mobilization of arguments; 2) the legitimating framework of the ICC invites controversy and remains an open question.