Should I Stay or Should I Go? Leaders, Exile, and the Dilemmas of International Justice

Daniel Krcmaric*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In recent years, several oppressive leaders have been arrested and extradited to international courts. What are the consequences of this global justice cascade? I address this question by examining patterns of exile. I show that the justice cascade has a differential effect on leaders based on their culpability (whether they presided over atrocity crimes). In the past, culpable and nonculpable leaders went into exile at virtually identical rates. Today, however, culpable leaders are about six times less likely to flee abroad because exile no longer guarantees a safe retirement. These findings raise stark implications for existing research that debates whether international justice deters atrocities or prolongs conflicts. My results about exiled leaders, I explain, imply that the justice cascade should deter atrocities and prolong conflicts. Thus, instead of debating whether international justice is helpful or harmful, future scholarship should carefully consider the trade-offs it creates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-498
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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