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Punishing the Enemies of All Mankind

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2008


How do we and how should we punish perpetrators of international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide? Is it fair to hold individuals responsible for their role in manifestations of this type of collective violence? Do the punishments issued by international criminal institutions support the usual penological rationales? Do they actually attain their goals? Is the Westernized international criminal justice system the most appropriate means of dealing with mass violence, especially in non-Western countries which might have a different perception of justice? What are the alternatives? These are just some of the questions which Mark Drumbl addresses in this book.

Copyright © Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law 2008

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1 ‘Judgment of the Tribunal’, (1947) 41 AJIL 172.

2 Hybrid and mixed courts have been established in Sierra Leone (2000), East Timor (2000), Kosovo (2000), Cambodia (2003), and Lebanon (2007).

3 In some cases it is known that criminal organizations and known criminals have become involved in the war, such as ‘Arkan’ (Željko Ražnatović) in the Yugoslavian war. In some cases private security organizations have become involved in crimes, such as the US company Blackwater in Iraq. J. Scahill, Blackwater, the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army (2007). Sometimes the state even uses former criminals deliberately, to conduct their dirty work. See, e.g., G. Prunier, Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide (2005), 79.

4 See on Hitler and Stalin E. Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973); and for leaders in general, J. M. Post, Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior (2004).

5 H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1964), 276.

6 See for the first instance UN Doc. S/RES/1078 (1996) of 9 November 1996. See for an extensive discussion of this development F. Grünfeld, ‘Human Rights Violations: A Threat to International Peace and Security’, in M. Castermans, F. van Hoof, and J. Smith (eds.), The Role of the Nation-State in the 21st Century (1998).

7 See Art. 39 of the UN Charter, which reads as follows: ‘The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.’

8 In practice few states actually prosecute perpetrators who committed international crimes in other states, but this does not change the common and universal acceptance of the possibility and moral duty of doing so.

9 S. Cohen, States of Denial: Knowing about Atrocities and Suffering (2001), 1.

10 For an overview see J. Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killings (2007), 55–87.

11 The Rorschach test is a method of psychological evaluation using inkblots to examine personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

12 See Waller, supra note 10, at 63–4.

13 See Arendt, supra note 5, at 25.

14 D. J. Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996); and C. R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992).

15 Z. Baumann, Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), 83.

16 See also the telling title of Aronson's handbook on social-psychology: E. Aronson, The Social Animal (2004).

17 D. K. Gupta, Path to Collective Madness: A Study in Social Order and Political Pathology (2001), 73.

18 See the social identity theory of Tajfel and Turner with the unfortunate result that people tend to identify themselves as distinctive from the other. H. Tajfel and J. Turner, ‘The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour’, (1986) Annual Review of Psychology 1.

19 Gupta, supra note 17, at 72.

20 E. Fromm, The Fear of Freedom (1942).

21 R. S. Baron and N. L. Kerr, Group Process, Group Decision, Group Action (2003), 110.

23 See L. Festinger, A Theory on Cognitive Dissonance (1957).

24 Baron and Kerr, supra note 21, at 99.

25 Ibid., at 93.

26 Gupta, supra note 17, at 73. See also N. J. Kressel, Mass Hate: The Global Rise of Genocide and Terror (1996).

27 M. Warr, Companions in Crime: The Social Aspects of Criminal Conduct (2002), 3.

28 E. H. Sutherland, Criminology (1947).

29 Political violence can be defined as violence aimed at gaining or maintaining political power.

30 Harff, B., ‘No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955’, (2003) 97 American Political Science Review 57CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 R. F. Melson, Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust (1992).

32 E. Staub, The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence (1989).

33 International crimes are usually committed and supported by states or state organs, but according to the law this is not an absolute requirement: non-state actors can also be responsible for international crimes and sometimes they indeed are.

34 H. C. Kelman and V. L. Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience (1989), 46.

35 Kelman, H. C., ‘The Policy Context of Torture: A Social-Psychological Analysis’, (2005) 87 International Review of the Red Cross 123, at 126CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 See Arendt, supra note 5; and M. Osiel, Mass Atrocity, Ordinary Evil, and Hannah Arendt: Criminal Consciousness in Argentina's Dirty War (2001).

37 Cf. A. Smeulers, ‘Perpetrators of International Crimes: Towards a Typology’, in A. Smeulers and R. H. Haveman (eds.), Supranational Criminology: Towards a Criminology of International Crimes (2008).

38 T. Hirschi, Causes of Delinquency (1969).

39 A. Smeulers, ‘What Transforms Ordinary People into Gross Human Rights Violators?’, in S. Carey and S. Poe (eds.), Understanding Human Rights Violations: New Systematic Studies (2004), 239; and Waller, supra note 10.

40 E.g. Kelman and Hamilton, supra note 34; Staub, supra note 32; R. J. Lifton, Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (1988); but see also the experiments by Milgram and by Zimbardo et al.: S. Milgram, Obedience to Authority (1974); and P. G. Zimbardo, C. Haney, W. Curtis Banks, and D. Jaffe, ‘The Psychology of Imprisonment: Privation, Power, and Pathology’, in R. Zick (ed.), Doing unto Others (1974), 61–73, and the literature on social-psychology and defence mechanisms such as Festinger, supra note 23.

41 See also, however, Osiel, M., ‘The Banality of Good: Aligning Incentives against Mass Atrocity’, (2005) 105 Columbia Law Review 1751Google Scholar.

42 See more extensively on a typology of perpetrators Smeulers, supra note 37.

43 P. Z. Malkin and H. Stein, Eichmann in My Hands (1990), 82.

44 Arendt, supra note 5, at 116.

45 See also Drumbl's award-winning article on this issue in 2005: Drumbl, M. A., ‘Collective Violence and Individual Punishment: The Criminality of Mass Atrocity’, (2005) 99 Northwestern University Law Review 539Google Scholar.

46 See for a series of articles on this concept Journal of International Criminal Justice (2007) 5 (1). See also Osiel, supra note 41.

47 J. Balint, ‘Dealing with International Crimes: Towards a Conceptual Model of Accountability and Justice’, in Smeulers and Haveman, supra note 37. See also the criticism by Mamdani, M., ‘Reconciliation without Justice’, (1996) 46 South African Review of Books 3Google Scholar, who according to Wilson ‘bitterly criticized the TRC for avoiding the issue of the beneficiaries of apartheid, and the commission's inability to see apartheid as a system’. See R. A. Wilson, The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Legitimizing the Post-apartheid State (2001), 35.

48 Alvarez, J. E., ‘Crimes of States/Crimes of Hate: Lessons from Rwanda’, (1999) 24 Yale Journal of International Law 365, at 482Google Scholar.

50 G. J. Bass, Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals (2000), 13.

51 Ibid., at 13.

52 R. Paternoster, ‘The Deterrent Effect of the Perceived Certainty and Severity of Punishment: A Review of the Evidence and Issues’ (1987) Justice Quarterly 173; C. R. Tittle, Sanctions and Social Deviance, the Question of Deterrence (1980).

53 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, Vol. 1 (1998).

54 M. Bilton and K. Sim, Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (1992).

55 S. Landsman, Crimes of the Holocaust: The Law Confronts Hard Cases (2005).

56 Ibid., at 60.

57 Ibid., at 94.

58 Ibid., at 172. Ultimately it was acknowledged that the man in the dock was not Demjanjuk but another man who had committed atrocious crimes, in Treblinka rather than in Sobibor.

59 Harff, supra note 30.

60 Wilson, supra note 47.

61 Bass, supra note 50, at 310.

62 A. H. Klip and A. L. Smeulers, ‘Afrekenen met het Verleden: de Afdoening van Internationale Misdrijven’, in A. H. Klip, A.L. Smeulers, and M. W. Wolleswinkel (eds.), KriTies: Liber Amicorum et Amicarem voor prof. Mr. E. Prakken, (2004), at 326.

63 T. Allen, Trial Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Lord's Resistance Army (2006), at 129.

64 Ibid., at 129.

65 Ibid., at 134.

66 Ibid., at 147.

67 Ibid., at 167.

68 Ibid., at 181.

69 Cohen, S., ‘Human Rights and Crimes of the State: The Culture of Denial’, (1993) 26 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 97CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

70 Alvarez, supra note 48, 404.

71 Ibid., at 415.

72 G. Prunier, The Rwandan Crisis: History of a Genocide (2005), 355.

73 S. Kutnjak and J. Hagan, ‘Bargain Justice? Perceptions of Procedural Justice at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia,’ paper presented at the American Society of Criminology meeting in Atlanta, 14–17 November 2007.

74 F. Grünfeld and A. Huijboom, The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of the Bystanders (2007); and cf. M. Barnett, Eyewitness to Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda (2002).

75 Kutnjak, S. and Hagan, J., ‘The Politics of Punishment and the Siege of Sarajevo: Toward a Conflict Theory of Perceived International Injustice’, (2006) 40 Law and Society Review 369Google Scholar.

76 See M. C. Bassiouni, Post-conflict Justice (2002); and N. Kritz, Transitional Justice: How Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes (1995).

77 E.g. M. Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence (1998); P. B. Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Confronting State Terror and Atrocity (2001); and C. Villa-Vicencio, ‘Why Perpetrators Should Not Always Be Prosecuted: Where the International Criminal Court and Truth Commissions Meet’, (2000) 49 Empory Law Journal 205.

78 Cf. C. Villa-Vicencio, ‘Restorative Justice in Social Context: The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, in N. Biggar (ed.), Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict (2001).

79 Heller, K. J., ‘Deconstructing International Criminal Law’, (2007) 106 Michigan Law Review 975Google Scholar.

80 Ibid., at 985.

81 S. Parmentier, K. Vanspauwen, and E. Weitekamp, ‘Dealing with the Legacy of Mass Violence: Changing Lenses to Restorative Justice’, in Smeulers and Haveman, supra note 37. See also Gibson, J. and Gouws, A., ‘Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Attributions of Blame and the Struggle over Apartheid’ (1999) 93 American Social Science Review 501Google Scholar; and Mamdani, M., ‘Reconciliation without Justice’, (1997) 10 Southern Review 6, at 22–5Google Scholar.

82 Wilson, supra note 47, at 73.

83 Heller, supra note 79, at 19.

84 Drumbl, M. A., ‘Punishment, Postgenocide: From Guilt to Shame to “Civis” in Rwanda’, (2000) 75 New York University Law Review 1221Google Scholar.

85 See among others Drumbl, M. A., ‘Toward a Criminology of International Crime’ (2003–4) 19 Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution 263Google Scholar; and Roberts, P. and McMillan, N., ‘For Criminology in International Justice’, (2003) 1 Journal of International Criminal Justice 315CrossRefGoogle Scholar.