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A Cosmopolitan Liberal Account of International Criminal Law


In this article, I argue that two prominent frameworks for evaluating and developing international criminal law (ICL) can be reconciled into a new framework that absorbs the best insights of its predecessors. We cannot simply transplant fundamental principles from national legal systems, because they may be inapposite in the unusual contexts faced by ICL. However, this novelty does not mean that we are free to simply abandon culpability, legality, and our basic underlying commitment to the individual. Instead we must explore what that deontic commitment might entail in these new contexts. My primary aim is to show the possibility of bridging the apparent normative impasse. I also briefly sketch out the proposed framework, and suggest that it can generate new questions for current controversies in ICL. As an interesting by-product, the examination of ‘abnormal’ criminal law can raise new questions for general criminal-law theory, by exposing subtleties and parameters that we might not have noticed in a study of ‘normal’ contexts.

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M. Damaska , ‘The Shadow Side of Command Responsibility’, (2001) 49 American Journal of Comparative Law 455

L. Fletcher and H. Weinstein , ‘Violence and Social Repair: Rethinking the Contribution of Justice to Reconciliation’ (2002) 24 HRQ 573

J. Rawls , ‘Two Concepts of Rules’, (1955) 64 Philosophical Review 3

D. Robinson The Two Liberalisms of International Criminal Law’, in C. Stahn and L. van den Herik (eds.), Future Perspectives on International Criminal Justice (2010), 115

T. W. Pogge , ‘Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty’ (1992) 103 Ethics 48

G. Fletcher , ‘Liberals and Romantics at War: The Problem of Collective Guilt’, (2002) 111 Yale Law Journal 1499

M. Thorburn , ‘Justifications, Powers, and Authority’, (2008) 117 Yale Law Journal 1070

M. Dan-Cohen , ‘Responsibility and the Boundaries of the Self’, (1992) 105 Harvard Law Review 959

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Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
  • URL: /core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law
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