The role of international tribunals in the development of historical narratives

Moshe Hirsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Collective memories are significant for both individuals and societies, as they play an important role in the construction of collective identities. This article focuses on the role of non-criminal international tribunals in the development of collective memories, asking whether it is desirable for such international tribunals to be involved in the construction of historical narratives. International tribunals have not adopted a consistent approach concerning the presentation of a case's historical background in their judgments. The question of whether it is desirable for non-criminal tribunals to assume an active role in this sphere is analysed using three major sociological perspectives: The structural-functional approach, the symbolic-interactionist perspective, and the social conflict approach. The discussion regarding each theoretical approach is accompanied by illustrative examples from the case law of international tribunals. The conclusions drawn from this analysis integrate certain elements from each theoretical approach; but primarily draw on recommendations associated with the symbolic-interactionist perspective, and to a lesser extent on some recommendations associated with the social-conflict approach.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)391-428
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of the History of International Law
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • collective memory
  • historical narratives
  • international law
  • international tribunals
  • social theory
  • sociology


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of international tribunals in the development of historical narratives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this