Hannah Arendt’s Philosophy of Law Approach to International Criminal Law

in International Criminal Law Review
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My argument in this article is that Hannah Arendt has a coherent and well-developed, although not systematic, philosophy of law which she brings to the Eichmann trial specifically and to international criminal law generally. In Part One of the article, I lay out Arendt’s philosophy of law, focusing on her account of the difference between the Greek and Roman conceptions of the law, the status of the consensus iuris, and the status of legal principles. Part Two offers a comparison of Arendt’s and Dworkin’s legal and political principles that animate the law. Part Three takes up Arendt’s approach to international criminal law through an analysis of her report of the Eichmann trial, specifically her account of the unprecedented nature of crimes against humanity, the new type of criminal who commits administrative massacres, and the difference between the criminal and the political trial at the international level.

Hannah Arendt’s Philosophy of Law Approach to International Criminal Law

in International Criminal Law Review




Arendtsupra note 9 p. 720.


H. ArendtOn Revolution (New York: Penguin1968) p. 170.


Arendtsupra note 9 p. 724.


 See for instance Hannah ArendtThe Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1958) pp. 243–247; also Arendt On Revolution supra note 17 pp. 175–177.


H. ArendtEichmann in Jerusalem (New York: Penguin1963) p. 279. See also H. Arendt ’Personal Responsibility under a Dictatorship’ in: H. Arendt Responsibility and Judgment (New York: Shocken 2003).


Judith ShklarLegalism: Law Morals and Political Trials (Cambridge: Harvard University Press1964) p.129.


Ronald DworkinA Matter of Principle (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press1985) p. 16.


Ronald DworkinTaking Rights Seriously (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press1977) p. 52.


Dworkinsupra note 39 p. 40.


Stephen K. WhiteSustaining Affirmation: The Strengths of Weak Ontology in Political Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press2000).


Arendtsupra note 20 p. 338.


Lubansupra note 2 p. 641.


Shklarsupra note 32 p. 152.


Arendtsupra note 30 p. 249.


Arendtsupra note 4 p. 162


Arendtsupra note 30 p. 233.


Shklarsupra note 32 p. 148.

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