Views on the Ground: The Local Perception of International Criminal Tribunals in the Former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone

If international criminal courts are to achieve their aims—one of which is to contribute to the consolidation of democracy and the triumph of the rule of law over the instinct for revenge after prolonged periods of communal violence—perception of their legitimacy by the local population is a crucial factor. After laying out and comparing the basic features of the International Criminal Tribunal for the formerYugoslavia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone as to their respective origins, objectives, and programs of outreach, the article examines local reception from three standpoints: perceptions of overall legitimacy, perceptions of tribunal impartiality, and the effect of public perceptions of the tribunals on the respective countries’ reconciliation process.