chapter  8
16 Pages

Silences in international criminal legal histories and the construction of the victim subject of international criminal law

The nineteenth-century slave trading trial of Joseph Peters
WithEmily Haslam

This chapter begins by locating abolition within the development of international criminal law more generally before turning to explore the trial of Joseph Peters. It concerns the silences in international criminal legal histories. The chapter establishes a historical record that is central to the practice of international criminal law. The origins of modern international criminal law are overwhelmingly traced to the legal principles established in the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials that took place after the Second World War, with even the Rome Statute's Preamble focusing on victims of the twentieth century. It explains about the normalization of the figure of the African victim in international criminal law, cases such as Peters can invite critical reflection about the relationship between international criminal legal history and the construction of international criminal law's subjects. International criminal legal histories are typically silent about abolition and about the role of Africans in it, including in litigation.