The concepts of inherent powers and inherent jurisdiction are curious under international criminal law. Their source is unclear and their content indeterminate. With potentially coercive consequences on individuals, the exercise of such powers in the criminal context deserves close scrutiny. This article argues that the concepts serve a legitimate function within international criminal courts and tribunals. They are indispensable for filling lacunae in jurisdiction and controlling the abuse of process. Invocations of a court's inherent powers are guided by the necessity of guarding the judicial function and notions of justice. Problematically, this vests substantial discretion in the judiciary and opens their use to judicial activism. This article delineates a clear set of limitations and argues that judicial restraint is crucial to ensuring that there is no abuse of discretion flowing from the exercise of this power.
- international criminal justice
- inherent powers
- inherent jurisdiction
- limitations on power
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