Faculty Books
The Legal Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

The Legal Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone



This book examines whether the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), which was established jointly through an unprecedented bilateral treaty between the United Nations (UN) and Sierra Leone in 2002, has made jurisprudential contributions to the development of the nascent and still unsettled field of international criminal law. The monograph, which focuses on the main legal legacy of the SCSL, opens with an examination of the historical and political circumstances which led to the outbreak of a notoriously brutal civil war in Sierra Leone which lasted betweenMarch1991 and January 2002 and led to the deaths of approximately75,000 people. Following a discussion of the creation, jurisdiction, and the trials conducted by the SCSL, the author examines the SCSL’s unique personal jurisdiction over persons bearing “greatest responsibility” for the serious crimes committed in Sierra Leone and the implications of its use in future ad hoc international tribunals; the prosecution of the novel crime of “forced marriage” as other inhumane acts of crimes against humanity; the prosecution of the war crime of recruitment and use of children under the age of fifteen for the purpose of using them to participate actively in hostilities; as well as issues of immunity for the serving head of state of Liberia, which President Charles Taylor sought to invoke to block his own trial for international crimes before the SCSL. The book then discusses the status of blanket amnesties under international law, and critically evaluates the SCSL’s ruling that such a domestic measure could not block prosecution of universally condemned crimes before an independent international tribunal. Lastly, the book evaluates the tenuous interaction between truth commissions and special courts given both their simultaneous operation in Sierra Leone and distinctive mandates aimed at reconciliation and punishment. The author demonstrates that the SCSL, as the third modern international criminal tribunal supported by the UN, made some useful jurisprudential additions on many of these topics, and in some cases broke new ground, and that these represent a valuable legal and judicial contribution to the development of the nascent field of international criminal law.



Publication Date



Cambridge University Press


International Criminal Law, ad hoc tribunals, hybrid courts, Special Court for Sierra Leone, legacy of the special court, contributions of the Sierra Leone court, transitional justice, truth commissions, immunity, Charles Taylor, amnesties for international crimes, war crime of child recruitment, forced marriage as a crime against humanity.


Criminal Law | Human Rights Law | Law

The Legal Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone