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Bearing Witness to Atrocity Crimes: Photography and International Law

December 14, 2016 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: CA110, Cairnes Building, NUI Galway Ireland Ireland

Speaker(s): Dr Aoife Duffy

Affiliation: Irish Centre for Human Rights

Organised by: Whitaker Institute

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This paper aims to use ideas propounded by Susan Sontag and Judith Butler on photography to illuminate the critical role of photography and visual media in international law jurisprudence. Two key questions are pursued: firstly, what role does photography have in international law (with a particular focus on abusive photography), and, secondly, how do photography and visual media bear witness to atrocity crimes in international law?  The paper commences with an overview of the evolution of war photography and interrogates the ethical issues involved in the aestheticization of suffering for consumerist purposes. Drawing from scholarly definitions of atrocity crimes, the article settles on terminology which carves out the parameters of the socio-legal research space. In identifying the relevant areas of international law, the study delves into the associated jurisprudence, evincing the critical evidentiary role of photography in litigating atrocity crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.




This seminar is one of a series of seminars in the Whitaker Ideas Forum seminar series.  Dr Duffy will be representing the Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security Research Cluster.