Contemporary Approaches to the Philosophy of Crimes against Humanity

in International Criminal Law Review
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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.

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References

9

McLeod, supra note 7, p. 282.

16

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.

18

Luban, ibid., p. 87.

24

Luban, supra note 17, p. 138.

27

Alejandro Chehtman, The Philosophical Foundations of Extraterritorial Punishment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 95.

29

McLeod, supra note 7, p. 287.

30

Ibid., p. 294, citing Saladim Meckled-Garcia, ‘Harm’. in T. Honderich (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2005), p. 359.

31

McLeod, supra note 7, p. 299.

41

McLeod, supra note 7, p. 288.

43

May, supra note 16, p. 68.

47

May, supra note 16, p. 88. Emphasis added.

49

May, supra note 16, pp. 85–86.

50

Larry May, ‘Humanity, International Crime, and the Rights of Defendants (Reply to my critics)’, Ethics & International Affairs 20(3) (2006), p. 374.

51

Ibid., p. 376.

52

Massimo Renzo, ‘A Criticism of the International Harm Principle’, Criminal Law and Philosophy 4(3) (2010) 278.

57

Antony Duff, Answering for Crime: Responsibility and Liability in the Criminal Law (London: Hart Publishing, 2007).

58

Duff, supra note 56, p. 21.

61

Chehtman, supra note 54.

65

Duff, supra note 56, p. 22.

70

Renzo, supra note 16, p. 450.

72

Renzo, supra note 67, p. 223.

73

Renzo, supra note 16, p. 464.

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