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Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law

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  • Date Published: April 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521691383

$ 41.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • This book rethinks how people who perpetrate atrocity crimes should be punished. Based on an 'on the ground' review of the sentencing of perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda, Bosnia, East Timor, and other places afflicted by atrocity, this book concludes that the international community's preference for prosecution and imprisonment may not be as effective as we hope. Instead, this book calls for a broader-based response to atrocity that welcomes bottom-up perspectives, including restorative, reparative, and reintegrative traditions, that may differ from the adversarial Western criminal trial. The time has come for international criminal law as a discipline to move beyond nascence and to welcome a more challenging stage: that of re-appraisal and self-improvement.


    • ASIL 2009 - Honorable mention for contribution to scholarship

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Mark Drumbl has written the first major study of punishment and sentencing in international criminal law. What he concludes is quite surprising: current international sentencing schemes do not match up well with the deterrence, retributive, and expressive goals of punishment. Drumbl will set the debate on this topic for a very long time to come. Rarely has an author been able to bring together sophisticated philosophical theorizing, detailed empirical examination, and plausible practical guidance in such a lively and persuasive manner. Lawyers, philosophers, sociologists, and political theorists will learn much from this excellent book."
    -Larry May, Professor of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis, and Research Professor of Social Justice, Charles Stuart and Australian National Universities

    "Building upon a decade of rich experience in international criminal tribunals, Mark Drumbl takes a perceptive and challenging 'second generation' look at the prosecution of atrocities, demolishing the shibboleths and battering the conventional wisdoms. It is full of insights into the way forward, as we struggle to make sense of the new institutions."
    -William A. Schabas, Professor of Human Rights Law, National University of Ireland, Galway Commissioner, Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2002-2004)

    "The discipline of international criminal law is still a work in progress. This book advances knowledge in this new and still evolving field. The connection between what are now being called atrocities and the need to address them is becoming more obvious. As the world witnesses more of these atrocities, there is a growing need for international criminal justice. This book explores the relationship between atrocities and international criminal justice in a way that no other book does. It is a major contribution to the field, and as such, it is one of those books that should be read by those interested in international criminal justice and human rights."
    -M. Cherif Bassiouni Distinguished Research Professor, DePaul University College of Law, and Honorary President of the International Association of Penal Law

    "In this bold and creative book, Drumbl challenges bedrock assumptions of international criminal justice. He argues that international lawyers have gone too far in their pursuit of international standards and their push for criminal prosecutions. Drumbl's embrace of a broad range of responses to atrocity--exemplified by Rwanda's gacaca panels--make this book both provocative and refreshingly skeptical about the supremacy of international law in the face of human evil."
    -Allison Marston Danner, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School

    "This book touches almost all the big issues in applying criminal justice to heinous deeds of genocide and crimes against humanity. It weighs the difficulties in securing eyewitness testimony and examines the pros and cons of plea bargaining. It compares the costs and benefits of using international tribunals as against local courts. It weighs retributive against reconstitutive justice. Professor Drumbl has set a high standard and provided the resources for all future discussion of international criminal justice."
    -Thomas Franck, Professor of Law Emeritus, New York University Law School

    "This cutting-edge work blazes a new path to better international criminal law. Drumbl asks difficult questions and has the courage to offer ambitious answers. Vividly written and accessible, while also nuanced and sophisticated, this book is indispensable reading for scholars, students, practitioners, and judges committed to improving the connections between atrocity prosecutions and justice."
    -Professor Michael P. Scharf, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

    "The research is impeccable, and the writing gifted."
    -Daniel C. Turak, The Law and Politics Book Review

    "[...]the careful analyses based on impressive research are helpful and one can usefully draw empirical conclusions from them. For this analysis, the book is essential reading for all interested in atrocity crimes, whether at the domestic or international level."
    -Justice Richard Goldstone, Constitutional Court of South Africa, First Chief Prosecutor ICTR and ICTY Faculty, Harvard Law School

    "Mark A. Drumbl’s Atrocity, Punishment and International Law is not only a novel and insightful analysis of the effectiveness of criminal trials and punishments of mass violence, but also an interesting normative exploration of how this system can be improved[...] This text is unique in that it is one of the few that attempts to assess the penological system for core crimes (i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes)[...] In one of the most interesting and provocative sections of the book (chapter 7), Drumbl moves beyond a critique of the system in an attempt to propose a means by which inherent flaws may be rectified[...] In some ways, readers should think of Drumbl’s text as the foundation for change, in that its means for justice are not intended as a political blueprint, but as a theoretical exploration of a new approach to a most horrific problem."
    -Eric K. Leonard, Henkel Family Endowed Chair, Shenandoah University

    "This rich volume is a rich empirical account of how and why the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are penalized[...] It draws upon an astounding breadth and depth of literature not only from international criminal law theory and practice but also from the realms of sociology, philosophy, and political theory[...] Drumbl's work will become essential reading for all those interested in the subject of accountability for international crimes[...] Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law is an authoritative guide to the punitive practices of international and domestic tribunals and a rich source of theory, insights, and inspiration in shaping the law's response to mass atrocity."

    "[...]this book offers an exciting and challenging introduction to a very complicated subject."
    -Claude Pomerleau, University of Portland, International Journal on World Peace

    "...Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law is a challenging and provocative book...provides a damning critique of the transformative potential of international of international criminal law. It is hard to imagine that anyone who reads the book will still be able to believe that liberal-legalist criminal trials, however, well-intentioned, are capable of dealing with the collective nature of mass atrocity...His call to experiment with new kinds of transitional-justice institutions is thus both long overdue and most welcome..."
    --Kevin Jon Heller, Michigan Law Review [Vol. 106:975]

    "...offers a vital "second generation" contribution to the field of transitional justice...those interested in issues of transitional justice will have much to learn from this book, as will scholars and practitioners working in related fields of international law, human rights, political science, and peace studies..."
    --Nevin Aiken, H-Human-Rights, H-Net Reviews; December, 2008

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521691383
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Extraordinary crime and ordinary punishment: an overview
    2. Conformity and deviance
    3. Punishment of international crimes in international criminal tribunals
    4. Punishment of international crimes in national and local criminal justice institutions
    5. Legal mimicry
    6. Quest for purpose
    7. From law to justice
    8. Conclusion: some immediate implications.

  • Author

    Mark A. Drumbl, Washington and Lee University, Virginia
    Mark A. Drumbl is Professor of Law at the School of Law, Washington & Lee University, where he also serves as Director of the Transnational Law Institute, and has repeatedly held the Ethan Allen Faculty Fellowship. He studied at McGill University (BA, MA), Institut d'etudes politiques, University of Toronto (LL.B.), and Columbia University (LL.M., J.S.D.) and has held visiting appointments at University College, University of Oxford, Trinity College Dublin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Ottawa. In 2005 his academic work received the Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Papers Prize and in 2003 the International Association of Penal Law (US Section) Best Article Prize. Dr Drumbl has published extensively on international law and criminal justice, including in the NYU, Michigan, and North-western law reviews, Human Rights Quarterly, the American Journal of International Law, and the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. He has also authored chapters in edited volumes and frequently speaks at academic conferences and symposia. Prior to entering law teaching, Dr. Drumbl was judicial clerk to Justice Frank Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada. His practice experience includes an appointment as co-counsel for the Canadian Chief-of-Defense Staff before the Royal Commission investigating military wrongdoing in the UN Somalia Mission. Professor Drumbl has served as an expert in litigation in the US federal courts, as defense counsel in the Rwandan genocide trials, and has taught international law in Pakistan and Brazil. He is a frequent commentator in national print media, radio, and television.


    • ASIL 2009 - Honorable mention for contribution to scholarship

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