International Criminal Justice and Humanitarianism

36 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018

See all articles by Sara Kendall

Sara Kendall

Kent Law School

Sarah Nouwen

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2018


Part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on International Criminal Law, this chapter explores the relationship between international criminal justice and the field of humanitarianism. From some perspectives within these fields, humanitarianism and international criminal justice are diametrically opposed (international criminal justice against humanitarianism). Whilst recognising the differences in mandates and operational practices, this chapter argues that the fields nevertheless share certain attributes and challenges. Building on these parallels, the chapter illustrates two central issues faced by both fields: their relationship to and enactment of politics and their accountability to various constituencies (international criminal justice and humanitarianism). In addition to facing analogous challenges, the fields may in fact overlap when international criminal justice addresses humanitarian concerns by undertaking relief provision, or when lawyers use international criminal justice as a practice to alleviate suffering (international criminal justice as a form of humanitarianism). The chapter concludes with a call for further reflexivity in the field of international criminal justice, inspired by developments in humanitarian scholarship and practice.

Keywords: humanitarianism, international criminal justice, international criminal law, reflexivity, Levinas

Suggested Citation

Kendall, Sara and Nouwen, Sarah Maria Heiltjen, International Criminal Justice and Humanitarianism (December 1, 2018). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 69/2018, Available at SSRN: or

Sara Kendall

Kent Law School ( email )

Eliot College
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP
United Kingdom

Sarah Maria Heiltjen Nouwen (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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