A Cosmopolitan Liberal Account of International Criminal Law

26 Leiden Journal of International Law (2013) 127-153

40 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2012 Last revised: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by Darryl Robinson

Darryl Robinson

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2012


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 develop plausible accounts of 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 byproduct, 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.

Keywords: international criminal law, liberal account, deontological, criminal law theory, justice, fundamental principles, cosmopolitan, international tribunals, states, punishment

JEL Classification: K14, K33

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Darryl, A Cosmopolitan Liberal Account of International Criminal Law (August 1, 2012). 26 Leiden Journal of International Law (2013) 127-153. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2122926

Darryl Robinson (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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