Hybridization ‒ A Spectrum of Creative Possibilities

The President on Trial

Author/s (editor/s):

Mark Kersten, Kirsten Ainley

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

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Oxford University Press

Mark Kersten and Kirsten Ainley, ‘Hybridization ‒ A Spectrum of Creative Possibilities’, in Sharon Weill, Kim Thuy Seelinger, and Kerstin Bree Carlson, eds, The President on Trial: Prosecuting Hissène Habré, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 267-281.

After a sharp decline in interest, it appeared that the hybrid tribunal had become an ‘orphan’ of the international criminal justice project. That was not to be. Recent years have seen a spate of hybrids established or proposed, from Syria and South Sudan, to the Central African Republic and Sri Lanka. Perhaps most prominently, a hybrid court was set up in Dakar, Senegal, to prosecute former Chadian President Hissène Habré in 2013, a development that has stood out as the vanguard of a new generation of hybrid tribunals.

The re-emergence of the hybrid has been addressed by numerous scholars. Yet despite its renewed popularity, it remains unclear what, precisely, it means to be a hybrid court and how the latest hybrids might contribute to furthering the project of international criminal justice. The answer to the first question is typically assumed to be simple: hybrid tribunals are ‘of mixed composition and jurisdiction, encompassing both national and international aspects, usually operating within the jurisdiction where the crimes occurred.’ But hybrids are much more than just middle-ground institutions that marry national and international components. As this chapter demonstrates, they are institutions whose very hybridity creates productive space for creative solutions aimed at responding to some of the most endemic challenges facing international criminal justice.

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