This article develops a conflict approach for studying the field of international criminal law. Focusing on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, we draw on Buraway's (2003) elaboration of reflexive ethnography to determine how external political changes affect the work of an international legal institution. We explore how political frameworks of legal liberalism, ad hoc legalism, and legal exceptionalism result in internal office, organizational and normative changes within this Tribunal, thereby linking national political transformations with the construction of the global. Drawing on rolling field interviews and a two-wave panel survey, we conclude that the claims to universals that underwrite transnational legal fields cannot be understood solely through an analysis of external political forces, but must be combined with attention to how these are refracted through internal organizational change within international institutions.
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