On the Sidelines? State Representatives and Judicial Innovation in International Criminal Law

International courts have become a key driver of informal change in international law. The development of international criminal law is a core example, as both its substantive and procedural rules have changed significantly with the proliferation of international and internationalized criminal courts. Which role have states assumed in a situation in which change was driven by courts? This paper uses the concept of interpretive communities to examine empirically how government representatives follow, report on and potentially criticize innovative interpretations proposed by international criminal courts. Drawing on novel interview material with 17 government representatives from both supportive and more critical states, the paper argues, and shows empirically, how the ability of international criminal courts to innovate legal meaning is actively constructed and challenged through the ways in which government representatives engage with their jurisprudence in their day-to-day practice.