This article uses ideas propounded by Susan Sontag and Judith Butler on photography to illuminate the significant role of photography and visual media in international law jurisprudence. Two key questions are pursued: first, what role does photography have in international law (with a particular focus on abusive photography), and second, how do photography and visual media bear witness to atrocity crimes in international law? The article commences with an overview of the evolution of war photography as it dovetails the inclusion of visual media in juridical settings, and interrogates 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 reads the associated jurisprudence with a theoretical lens, evincing the critical evidentiary role that photography plays in the litigation of the most serious international crimes, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Tension between the transitive and probative functions of visual evidence is examined through a rich tapestry of international jurisprudence.


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pp. 776-814
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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