UBC Undergraduate Research

The Deterrence Effect : An Analysis of Preliminary Examinations by the International Criminal Court on the Severity of Civilian Atrocities Angulo Molina, Danilo


Despite preliminary examinations being the first stage of a four-stage intervention by the International Criminal Court (“the Court”), their deterrent effects remain largely unexamined. In this paper, I argue that, because a preliminary examination involves high-cost operations and comprehensive reports, it serves as a credible commitment signal to perpetrators that the Court is willing to take further and serious actions for the pursuit of justice. Thus, perpetrators are more likely to scale down the intensity of atrocities in order to avoid the escalation to a formal investigation, avoid being tried at the Court in the Hague, and protect their legitimacy. I test my argument by using time-series cross-section data for a period of 15 years, from 2004 to 2018, from 46 countries, including those with and without preliminary examinations. The findings support my hypothesis and theory, highlighting that preliminary examinations are significantly sufficient on their own to decrease the severity of civilian atrocities by approximately 15%. This study contributes to the literature on international criminal law and international tribunals by displaying the deterrence effect of preliminary examinations when analyzed independently instead of collectively with the other stages of intervention.

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