Bridge over Troubled Water – A Semantic Approach to Purposes and Goals in International Criminal Justice

In: International Criminal Law Review
Alexander Heinze Assistant Professor, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany,

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International tribunals are both legal and political institutions and their list of goals is manifold. Hard cases carry an inflated reference to ‘purposes’ and ‘goals’ of these institutions – despite the herculean task of achieving these goals, the inherent tension between them and the lack of a ranking order. This article borrows from studies of both the politics of organisational decision-making and language philosophy to determine the meaning of ‘purpose’ and ‘goal’. Against the common understanding that uses both terms interchangeably, a distinction between ‘purpose’ and ‘goal’ goes beyond a mere semantic description and can actually offer a classification that might be used as a coarse screen to separate ‘core goals’ from other goals, provide a weak ranking order and relativise the alleged obligation to achieve these goals.

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