In 2011, Mark Kersten gained some valuable insight while researching former rebel commanders in Uganda.

“In conversation with the former commanders, they expressed concerns about researchers going into Northern Uganda, asking them all kinds of questions and then leaving. The very subjects of these studies would never know the outcomes of the research.”

In exchange for photocopies of their diaries, Kersten lent the former commanders books that other authors had written on their rebel group. A week later, his books were returned –with annotations from the commanders, who had recognized themselves or had stories of the dead among the pages.

“That experience certainly affected me,” says Kersten, research fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs. “It was good to give the research back in a sense –these were books about them that up until then, they had never had an opportunity to read.”

His experience in Uganda led him to negotiate a deal with Oxford University Press (OUP) surrounding the release of his new book, Justice in Conflict: The Effects of the International Criminal Court’s Interventions on Ending Wars and Building Peace.

In an effort to give research back, OUP will make 200 copies of Kersten’s book available to libraries across Africa. Kersten’s book royalties will go toward covering the shipping and handling costs.

“I’m really hopeful that I might set a precedent where this becomes normal for publishers to do,” says Kersten.

An extension of his blog, also called Justice in Conflict, Kersten’s book will explore the politics of international criminal justice.

“It’s impossible to understand international criminal law without politics,” says Kersten. “The blog provides accessible writing about international criminal justice, which is generally inaccessible because it’s generally very convoluted—full of legalese. It’s like learning a different language. So, the blog and the book corner a market that was previously untapped: accessibly written analysis of the politics of international justice.”

Established over five years ago, the Justice in Conflict blog examines the relationship between peace and justice, and how the International Criminal Court pursues justice in the midst of violent political conflict across the globe. The blog has over 15,000 regular followers, with large portions of its audience concentrated in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Kersten’s Justice in Conflict book is available now for advanced purchase and will be released June 16.

April 26, 2016