Justifying International Criminal Justice: Towards a Relational Approach

47 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019

See all articles by Carsten Stahn

Carsten Stahn

Leiden University - Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies

Date Written: November 8, 2019


This contribution re-visits contemporary theorizations and justifications of international criminal justice. It starts with a brief intellectual history and existential doctrinal dilemmas, including the tension between realist and cosmopolitan approaches. It presents four different accounts of international criminal justice (i.e., as a crisis response tool, global governance mechanism, special type of authority and as a field), and their critiques. It then develops a relational theory. Traditionally, international criminal justice is justified based on three main schools of thought: consent-based models (e.g., delegation, social contract), procedural and consequentialist arguments, and expressivist theories. Each of these theories raise difficult justificatory problems, in light of the paradoxes of international criminal law. This contribution suggests that none of these three school suffices to provide a justification for international criminal justice. They must rather be read in a relational way. Each of them operates in relation to different stakeholders and constituencies. International criminal justice as such is a relational project. It engages multiple subjects in the performance of justice, solicits responses to international crimes, promotes answerability and constantly justifies itself through such relations.

Keywords: International criminal justice, justification, realism, cosmopolitanism, harm and security principle, consent, delegation, social contract, procedural justice, consequentialism. expressivism, relational responsibility

JEL Classification: K33, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Stahn, Carsten, Justifying International Criminal Justice: Towards a Relational Approach (November 8, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3483669 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3483669

Carsten Stahn (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies ( email )

Leiden University Law Faculty
P.O. Box 9520
Leiden, 2300 RA

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics