Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2041313
 


 



Human Dignity at Trial: Hard Cases and Broad Concepts in International Criminal Law


J. Benton Heath


Independent

November 28, 2012

44(2) George Washington International Law Review, 317 (2012)

Abstract:     
Broad and indeterminate invocations of human dignity play a sporadic but powerful role in the adjudication of international criminal law (ICL). Drawing on detailed case studies, I argue that the concept of dignity enables courts to fill gaps in the substantive criminal law, justify expansive interpretations, resolve conflicts between competing rights and values, and potentially overcome the requirements of strict legality. These features enable judges to reach important and sometimes morally compelling conclusions. But, drawing on earlier work on the ‘ethicalization’ of law, I argue that expansive uses of human dignity come into tension with rule-of-law principles, and they challenge the self-understanding of ICL as a regime of limited subject-matter jurisdiction.

In addition, I lay the groundwork for a more robust and well-defined conception of human dignity by connecting recent case law to older notions of dignity as a kind of rank or status. I connect this conception to contemporary work in legal philosophy, and argue that the concept of dignity as rank helps explain and harmonize some of the relevant case law on dignity and hate speech. This paper ends on a note of caution, emphasizing the fact that even a more developed concept of dignity will continue to encounter the frictions identified above.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: Human dignity, hate speech, international criminal law, crimes against humanity, persecution, theories of human rights

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: April 18, 2012 ; Last revised: November 28, 2012

Suggested Citation

Heath, J. Benton, Human Dignity at Trial: Hard Cases and Broad Concepts in International Criminal Law (November 28, 2012). 44(2) George Washington International Law Review, 317 (2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2041313

Contact Information

J. Benton Heath (Contact Author)
Independent ( email )
No Address Available
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 471
Downloads: 91
Download Rank: 166,700

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.329 seconds