Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights - International Criminal Law's Blind Spot?

Forthcoming in E. Riedel, C. Golay, C. Mahon, G. Giacca (eds.), Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: Contemporary Issues and Challenges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Grotius Centre Working Paper 2013/002-ICL

20 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013  

Larissa van den Herik

Leiden University

Date Written: June 5, 2013


Taking into account the alleged limited normative substance of economic, social, and cultural rights; this chapter seeks to revisit the theoretical explanation for the disconnect between international criminal law and economic, social, and cultural rights. It addresses the following questions: Does the special character of socio-economic and cultural human rights render them less easily reconcilable with the strict mens rea requirements that pervade international criminal law, or are socio-economic and cultural human rights less susceptible to international criminalization for another reason? Does the overall non-criminalization of violations of cultural and socio-economic rights, in fact, display a hidden sense of hierarchy, despite the lofty promises of Vienna 1993? In grappling with these questions, this chapter explores concrete examples and case scenarios in which international crimes prosecution could have a socio-economic or cultural dimension. This exercise will also identify limits of the current international crimes catalogue in respect of redressing second generation rights. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on the instrumentality of international criminal justice as a means to protect economic, social, and cultural rights.

Keywords: human rights law, international law, socio-economic rights, cultural rights, international criminal law, ICC

Suggested Citation

van den Herik, Larissa, Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights - International Criminal Law's Blind Spot? (June 5, 2013). Grotius Centre Working Paper 2013/002-ICL. Available at SSRN:

Larissa Van den Herik (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Postbus 9500
Leiden, 2300 RA

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