The Role of Universities and Law Schools in Documenting Serious International Crimes and Advancing the Rule of Law



Looking at how the rule of law is protected, defended, or even advanced by non-state actors operating below the state level is vitally important in understanding how rule of law principles get recognized, operationalized, and implemented. This article aims to contribute to a growing strand of scholarship looking at how the rule of law is protected and bolstered ‘from below.’ It does this by exploring the role of a specific type of civil society actor in the documentation and investigation of serious international crimes and efforts at accountability, namely the university. Over the last decade, there has been a transformation of human rights fact-finding and how it impacts the rule of law and accountability for serious international crimes. Universities, often through their legal clinics, are making significant contributions to the rule of law and accountability efforts. It explores what implications the role of independent documenter or investigator has for academic institutions in protecting and advancing the rule of law. It calls for greater recognition of societal engagement with universities and for more research on the impacts of universities and students on advancing the rule of law and accountability for serious international crimes.


atrocity crimesdocumentationinvestigationcivil societyuniversitiesaccountability
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 87–101
  • DOI: 10.36633/ulr.666
  • Published on 7 Oct 2021
  • Peer Reviewed