The Domestic Influence of International Criminal Tribunals: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Creation of the State Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina


International criminal tribunals are often criticized for having minimal influence on the states over which they exercise jurisdiction. This article argues that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has had a far more positive impact on domestic governance in Bosnia & Herzegovina than previously assumed by both the academic and policy communities. The article develops a theoretical model to explain the impact of international criminal tribunals on domestic governance and tests that model against the ICTY’s influence in Bosnia. More specifically, the article advances the claim that the nature of the tribunal’s jurisdictional relationship with domestic judicial institutions and the incentives for national and international officials created by that jurisdiction interacted with changing preferences of domestic actors, thereby catalyzing judicial reform and institutional development in Bosnia. Based on an in-depth study of the ICTY’s interactions with Bosnia from 1994 to 2006, the article presents new empirical evidence of the Tribunal’s early effect of freezing out the activation of the domestic judiciary in Bosnia and its later role in the establishment of the new State Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina with war crimes jurisdiction. The article attributes the variance in the Tribunal’s influence over time in large part to changes in its jurisdictional relationship with national courts brought about by the ICTY’s Completion Strategy. The article further suggests the significance of a tribunal’s institutional design, and particularly its jurisdictional relationship, for the direction and intensity of its influence on domestic institutional development.