Punishment Without a Sovereign? The Ius Puniendi Issue of International Criminal Law: A First Contribution Towards a Consistent Theory of International Criminal Law

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2 (2013), pp. 293–315

23 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013

See all articles by Kai Ambos

Kai Ambos

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Date Written: March 12, 2013

Abstract

Current International Criminal Law (ICL) suffers from at least four fairly serious theoretical shortcomings. First, as a starting point, the concept and meaning of ICL in its different variations must be clarified (‘the concept and meaning issue’). Second, the question of whether and how punitive power can exist at the supranational level without a sovereign (‘the ius puniendi issue’) must be answered in a satisfactory manner. Third, the overall function or purpose of ICL as opposed to national criminal law (‘the overall function issue’) must be more convincingly explained. Fourth, the purposes of punishment in ICL, as opposed to the traditional purposes discussed in national criminal law, must be elaborated (‘the purposes of punishment issue’). There is a partly vertical and partly horizontal relationship between these issues. It is, for example, of course impossible to reflect upon ius puniendi, overall function and purposes of punishment without having clarified the concept of ICL in the first place. Also, a treatment of overall function and purposes of punishment seems to be predicated on the justification of the ius puniendi. Indeed, the lack of a satisfactory answer to the ius puniendi issue is maybe the most important theoretical weakness of current ICL. This article therefore aims to demonstrate that a supranational ius puniendi can be inferred from a combination of the incipient supranationality of the world order (understood normatively as an order of values) and the concept of a world society composed of world citizens whose law — the ‘world citizen law’ (‘Weltbürgerrecht’) — is derived from universal, indivisible and interculturally recognized human rights predicated upon a Kantian concept of human dignity. The incipient world order and the world society are represented by the international community (to be understood as a community of values) which becomes the holder of the ius puniendi.

Keywords: criminal law, international law, Kant, legal philosophy, legal theory, legitimacy

Suggested Citation

Ambos, Kai, Punishment Without a Sovereign? The Ius Puniendi Issue of International Criminal Law: A First Contribution Towards a Consistent Theory of International Criminal Law (March 12, 2013). Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2 (2013), pp. 293–315. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2274868 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2274868

Kai Ambos (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5
Göttingen, 37073
Germany

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