International Criminal Law: Intersections and Contradictions

Authors: Schaack, Beth Van / Slye, Ronald C.
Edition: 1st
Copyright Date: 2021
  • Publication Date: November 27th, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781684670017
  • Subject: International Criminal Law
  • Series: Concepts and Insights
  • Type: Hornbook Treatises
  • Description: This engaging primer presents the field of International Criminal Law (ICL) in new and accessible ways. It provides a concise summary of key ICL doctrines while also raising novel and interdisciplinary perspectives. It targets a wide range of audiences, including law and other graduate students studying international law and related disciplines, such as human rights, transitional justice, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution. The book will also be useful for those working in the field—including diplomats, mediators, government officials, and negotiators—who need to understand the foundations and core concepts of ICL. It offers a useful primer for someone new to the field, and provides thought-provoking discussions for more seasoned practitioners.

    Part I introduces the domain of ICL. Specific chapters are devoted to the different strands of the field’s history; the web of institutions that apply and interpret ICL; how the rules of international law generally, and ICL in particular, are created; theories that attempt to explain why certain crimes are subject to international regulation; and the unique challenges posed by the principle of legality within ICL.

    Part II is devoted to the intersecting elements of the major crimes recognized by international law (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, aggression, and terrorism), the unique development of modes of liability under international law (including superior responsibility, complicity, co-perpetration, and joint criminal enterprise), and some of the defenses that might be deployed to block or mitigate liability (immunities, amnesties, and excuses).

    The text ends with two synthesis chapters. The first provides an in-depth case study of Syria to illustrate the way in which members of the international community can attempt to invoke, and block access to, the architecture of ICL and related accountability mechanisms. The second revisits some of the fundamental objectives underlying ICL, the more trenchant critiques of the project of international justice, and the breadth of creativity underlying alternative mechanisms developed under the cognate fields of transitional justice and conflict resolution.

    More than a hornbook, the text goes beyond a straight doctrinal discussion of ICL and offers insightful and provocative insights into the field. In so doing, it highlights points of intersection and divergence within core doctrines and offers a candid assessment of challenges in the field and opportunities for growth and development.