Constructing Achievement in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia : A Corpus-Based Critical Discourse Analysis


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Abstract
The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia was established by the UN Security Council in 1993 to prosecute persons responsible for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia during the Balkan wars. As the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremburg and Tokyo tribunals set up after WWII, the ICTY has attracted immense interest among legal scholars since its inception, but has failed to garner the same level of attention from researchers in other disciplines, notably linguistics. This represents a significant research gap, as the Tribunal’s public discourse can open up interesting avenues of analysis to researchers of law, language, and legal discourse alike. On its official website, the Tribunal claims that it has “irreversibly changed the landscape of international humanitarian law” and lists six specific achievements: “Holding leaders accountable; bringing justice to victims; giving victims a voice; establishing the facts; developing international law and strengthening the rule of the law”. While a number of legal scholars have studied and critiqued the level of ‘achievement’ actually attained by the Tribunal against these metrics and others, of interest to linguists is the ways in which this work might be conveyed discursively. In this paper, we demonstrate how methods from the linguistic field of corpus-based critical discourse analysis can be utilised to explore the discursive construction of such achievements in the language of the ICTY.
Keywords Corpus linguistics  Critical discourse analysis  Legal language  Legal judgements  International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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DOI 10.1007/s11196-015-9440-y
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