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The priority of procedure and the neglect of evidence and proof: facing facts in international criminal law

Roberts, Paul


Professor of Criminal Jurisprudence


This article concerns the role and value of procedural and evidentiary scholarship in the rapidly developing field of International Criminal Law (ICL). It extrapolates and adapts to the international context two, distinct but related, lines of argument previously pitched at the domestic level. The first, broadly speaking jurisprudential, argument asserts ‘the priority of procedure’, challenging the widespread assumption that procedure is the merely adjectival handmaiden of substantive criminal law. The second, essentially methodological, argument advocates a conception of ‘evidence and proof’ extending beyond doctrinal rules to encompass sustained analysis of factual evidence, logical inferential reasoning, and forensic argumentation. One particular analytical method — Wigmore charting — is illustrated as offering a set of practical tools for supporting criminal litigation, in international no less than domestic proceedings. Though ICL scholarship has from the outset taken a commendably keen interest in procedural questions, there is scope for broader and deeper engagement with procedural and evidentiary issues, with potential for enriching both the theory and the practice of international criminal law. (And ICL might then repay the compliment by broadening the conventional disciplinary horizons of Evidence and Proof and Criminal Law Theory scholarship.)


Roberts, P. (in press). The priority of procedure and the neglect of evidence and proof: facing facts in international criminal law. Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13(3), doi:10.1093/jicj/mqv021

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 7, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2015
Deposit Date Dec 12, 2016
Journal Journal of International Criminal Justice
Print ISSN 1478-1387
Electronic ISSN 1478-1395
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Public URL
Publisher URL