Searching for Deterrence at the International Criminal Court

In: International Criminal Law Review
Geoff Dancy Assistant Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA,

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Does the International Criminal Court (icc) deter acts of violence in the world? To answer this question, this article first distinguishes between three phenomena that are often confusingly grouped together under the heading of ‘deterrence’. These include the termination of ongoing civil wars (compellence), the prevention of atrocity crime recidivism (specific deterrence), and the overall prevention of war and atrocity crimes (general deterrence). The article then assesses whether state commitments to the Rome Statute and icc intervention in specific contexts can promote these three aims. It presents evidence that the icc can indeed contribute to violence prevention, though not because of its ability to sanction abusive actors. Instead, the Court’s role as a ‘stigmatizer’ in the international community has likely contributed to declines in certain types of violence over time. As such, the article concludes that the icc is more important for what it is than what it does.

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