Mass Atrocity, Mass Testimony, and the Quantitative Turn in International Law

Renana Keydar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The article identifies and analyses the development it labels the “quantitative turn” in international criminal law. Addressing the cumulative effect of the large numbers of witnesses in international processes, the article considers quantity as an integral, and substantively beneficial, component of the law's response to atrocity crimes. The article develops a theorized understanding of the relationship between mass atrocity and mass testimony and provides a taxonomy of the functions that the quantity of testimonies fulfills in international trials: the evidentiary, didactic, epistemic, and restorative functions. Focusing on a recent case before the International Criminal Court in the matter of The Prosecutor v. Bemba, the article demonstrates how the different players in the international justice system—Prosecution, Defense, Victims, and the Court—employ the functions of quantity, while negotiating concerns over manageability and scale. The goal of this article is to prompt a debate and a more careful consideration of the potential benefits of a meaningful participation of witnesses and victims in post-atrocity proceedings. This is particularly important given the dominance of the efficiency paradigm in international criminal law (ICL) discourse, which directly impacts the quantitative turn. The article forges new ways for ICL institutions to maintain a plurality of voices and their commitment to victims while safeguarding the rights of the accused.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)554-587
Number of pages34
JournalLaw and Society Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
†Postdoctoral fellow, Martin Buber Society of Fellows, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Author wishes to thank Daphna Hacker, Ron Dudai, Kieran McEvoy, Yuval Shany, Natalie Davidson, Itay Ravid, Gilat Bachar, Magda Pacholska, and Yael Lit-manovitz for their valuable comments. The author is also grateful to the anonymous reviewers and editors of the Law and Society Review for their careful reading and constructive remarks. This research was supported by the Human Rights Under Pressure Program, Minerva Center for Human Rights, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Law and Society Association


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