international justice, peace operations, hybrid tribunals, Sierra Leone
As institutions of international justice proliferate, so do disputes about their legitimacy, and about what shape they ought to take. As truly international tools such as the International Criminal Court and the exercise of universal jurisdiction face political and practical challenges, some scholars and practitioners have advocated a distinct institutional solution: the hybrid court. These are courts that are neither purely national nor international, but rather that pursue accountability in the country where abuses and crimes occurred, but with both national and international staff, and utilizing a mixture of national and international law. Many have suggested that these tribunals represent the “right-sizing” of justice. This essay argues the reverse, using the experience of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to suggest that rather than being a perfect combination of the local and global, hybrid institutions may exhibit some of the more problematic elements of each.