Crimes against humanity have recently been the object of significant examination in contemporary analytical philosophy. Yet several theoretical issues are still up for grabs. What exactly is a crime against humanity? How are crimes against humanity different from domestic offences? What does humanity stand for in this notion? And who is entitled to define and prosecute these crimes? This article provides a concise, critical overview of the main positions available in the literature. It seeks to isolate the key conceptual and normative issues that surround this debate, and to assess the different answers currently available. It concludes that although all the answers available face significant objections and difficulties, they have made increasingly clear what the philosophical questions surrounding the notion of crimes against humanity are.
Exceptions include Larry May, Crimes against Humanity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Robert Cryer, Prosecuting International Crimes: Selectivity and the International Criminal Law Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 75; and Massimo Renzo, ‘Crimes against Humanity and the Limits of International Criminal Law’, 31(4) Law and Philosophy (2012) 449.