What is an International Crime?
The Oxford Handbook of International Criminal Law
28 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 26, 2021
This chapter defends a pluralist account of International Criminal Law (ICL). In contrast to other approaches to defining international crimes, I argue, as both a descriptive and a normative matter, that there is no hard and fast distinction between international of fences and so-called ‘ordinary’ offences. Instead, there exists a continuum of regulation in which international law asserts varying degrees of non-exhaustive force over the criminal law. This pluralism derives principally from the normative underpinnings of ICL that, I ar gue, is concerned less with the prosecution of offences that are uniquely international in some qualitative sense than with protecting universal human values through a division of labour between international and domestic institutions. I develop this account through consideration of the historical evolution of ICL, the difficulties associated with competing positive law explanations of international crime, and the diversity of institutional respons es that make of use of ICL.
Keywords: International criminal law, international crimes, international human rights, pluralism, prosecution, preventive action
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