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Pluralism in International Criminal Law



Fragmentation of international law is a phenomenon that has been discussed ever since the ILC in 2000 decided to add to its programme of work the topic ‘Risks ensuing from the fragmentation of international law’. Koskenniemi, in a paper published in this journal, was one of the first to address fragmentation in legal literature. In 2006, he finalized a voluminous report on ‘Fragmentation of International Law’, providing for means and ways to cope with fragmentation.



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1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-Fifth Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/55/10), Chapter IX.A.1, para. 729.

2 Koskenniemi, M. and Leino, P., ‘Fragmentation of International Law? Postmodern Anxieties’, (2002) 15 LJIL 553.

3 ILC, Fragmentation of International Law: Difficulties Arising from the Diversification and Expansion of International Law, Report of the Study Group of the International Law Commission, 13 April 2006, A/CN.4/L.682.

4 See for an overview Stahn, C. and Van den Herik, L. J., ‘Fragmentation, Diversification and ‘‘3D’’ Legal Pluralism: International Criminal Law as the Jack-in-the-Box?’, in Van den Herik, L. J. and Stahn, C. (eds.), The Diversification and Fragmentation of International Criminal Law (2012 forthcoming).

5 Prosecutor v. Tadic', Judgement, IT-94-1-A, 15 July 1999.

6 Prosecutor v. Tadic', Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, IT-94-1-AR72, 2 October 1995, para. 11.

7 Koskenniemi and Leino, supra note 2, at 558.

8 Keynote Speech at the opening Session of the Biennial Conference of the European Society of International Law in Heidelberg on 4 September 2008, published as Simma, B., ‘Universality of International Law from the Perspective of a Practitioner’, (2008) 20 EJIL 265.

9 Stahn and Van den Herik, supra note 4.

10 Greenawalt, A. K. A., ‘The Pluralism of International Criminal Law, (2011) 86 Indiana Law Journal, 1063 available online at, 1–66.

11 Ibid., at 5.

12 Stahn and Van den Herik, supra note 4, at 4.

13 See Bitti, G., ‘Article 21 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Treatment of Sources of Law in the Jurisprudence of the ICC’, in Stahn, C. and Sluiter, G. K. (eds.), The Emerging Practice of the International Criminal Court (2009), at 285.

14 W. A. Schabas, The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (2010), at 391.

15 Ibid., at 396.

16 V. Nehrlich, ‘The Status of ICTY and ICTR Precedent in Proceedings before the ICC’, in Stahn and Sluiter, supra note 13, at 305; See also Bitti, supra note 13, at 295–304.

17 Hunt, D., ‘The International Criminal Court: High Hopes, “Creative Ambiguity” and an Unfortunate Mistrust in International Judges’, (2004) 2 JICJ 56.

18 Cryer, R., ‘Royalism and the King: Article 21 of the Rome Statute and the Politics of Sources’, (2009) 12 New Criminal Law Review 390, at 394.

19 Prosecutor v. Lubanga, Witness Proofing in Decision Regarding the Practices Used to Prepare and Familiarise Witnesses for Giving Testimony at Trial, 01/04–01/06–1049, Decision on the Practices of Witness Familiarisation and Witness Proofing, 30 November 2007, para. 44. See Karemaker, R., Taylor, B. D. and Pittman, T. W., ‘Witness Proofing in International Criminal Tribunals: A Critical Analysis of Widening Procedural Divergence’, (2008) 21 LJIL 683; Ambos, K., ‘Witness Proofing’ before the International Criminal Court: A Reply to Karemaker, Taylor, and Pittman’, (2008) 21 LJIL 911.

20 Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, Lubanga (ICC-01/04-01/06), Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 29 January 2007; Katanga and Ngudjolo Chui (ICC-01/04-01/07), Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 30 September 2008. See E. van Sliedregt, Individual Criminal Responsibility in International Law (2012), at 83–9.

21 Simma, supra note 8, at 276.

22 Greenawalt, supra note 10, at 6; Wilt, Harmen van der, ‘Equal Standards? On the Dialectics between National Jurisdictions and the International Criminal Court’, (2008) 8 International Criminal Law Review 229, at 254.

23 One such example is the Frans van Anraat case in The Netherlands, where it was held that ‘genocidal intent’ under Dutch law encompasses voorwaardelijk opzet or dolus eventualis. This is broader than the international standard, which requires knowledge.

24 Simma, supra note 8, at 269–70.

25 See Burke-White, W. W., ‘International Legal Pluralism’, (2004) 25 Mich. JIL 963, at 963–4.

26 See Koch, C. H. Jr, ‘Judicial Dialogue for Legal Multiculturalism’, (2004) 25 Mich. JIL 929.

27 Pauwelyn, J., ‘Bridging Fragmentation and Unity: International Law as a Universe of Inter-connected Islands’, (2004) 25 Mich. JIL 903.

28 J. Griffiths, ‘What Is Legal Pluralism?’, (1986) 24 Journal of Legal Pluralism 1, at 2.

29 See, e.g., Merry, S. E., ‘Legal Pluralism’, (1988) 22 Law & Society Review 869.

30 Berman, P. S., ‘Global Legal Pluralism’, (2007) 80 Southern California Law Review 1155.

31 Berman, H. J., ‘World Law’, (1995) 18 Fordham ILJ 1617.

32 Berman, supra note 30, at 1189.

33 Simma, supra note 8, 266–8.

34 That this is a real risk can be taken from the Van Anraat case in The Netherlands: Judgment, Van Anraat, Hague District Court, Case No. LJN: AU8685, 23 December 2005; Judgment, Van Anraat, Hague Court of Appeals, Case No. LJN: BA4676, ILDC (International Law in Domestic Courts) 753 (NL 2007), 9 May 2007, at 7. See van der Wilt, H. G., ‘Genocide v. War Crimes in the Van Anraat Appeal’, (2009) 6 JICJ 557.

35 See supra note 10, 21–37.

36 Berman, supra note 30, at 1218–19.

37 Ibid., at 1215.

38 Consider also Art. 10 ICC Statute: ‘Nothing in this Part shall be interpreted as limiting or prejudicing in any way existing or developing rules of international law for purposes other than this Statute.’

39 Burke-White, supra note 25, at 971–3; See also Burke-White, W. W., ‘A Community of Courts: Toward a System of International Criminal Law Enforcement, (2002) 24 Mich. JIL 1; See A-M. Slaughter, A New World Order (2004), 250; Slaughter, A-M., ‘Judicial Globalization’, 40 Virg. JIL 1103, at 1105–16.

40 Berman, supra note 30, at 1228.

41 Greenawalt, supra note 10, at 59–66.

42 Ibid., at 61.

* Senior editor LJIL, Professor of Criminal Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam [].

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Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
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