What is International Criminal Justice
Gideon Boas, ‘What’s in a Word: The Nature and Meaning of International Criminal Justice’, in Gideon Boas, William A. Schabas and Michael P. Scharf (eds.), International Criminal Justice: Legitimacy and Coherence (Edward Elgar, 2012), 1-24
24 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2013
Date Written: 2012
What is understood by the phrase 'international criminal justice' is surprisingly difficult to articulate comprehensively. At a fundamental level, it describes the response of the international community – and other communities to mass atrocity. This seems to be a broadly accepted definition. How we respond to war, to the rupture of society and to systematised murder and persecution, is at the heart of the issue. What forms of transitional justice are attempted and how their goals are achieved, or at least attempted, are all importance responses. But international criminal justice is about more than responses. How do we learn from history, or sometimes fail to do so? Can we use our understanding of human psychology to respond better to mass atrocity, or to prevent or address it sooner? What of the sociological elements that are infused in our response to heinous international crimes; how do these affect our understanding and practice of international criminal justice? This chapter explores some different perspectives and disciplinary approaches to this complex area, including political, historical and sociological perspectives.
Keywords: international criminal justice, transitional justice, international war crime trials, retributive justice, International Criminal Court, War on Terror, Guantanamo Bay, Restorative Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K30, K33, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation