In this article, I test predominant normative approaches to CAH against the notion’s deployment in law. Embarking on this cross-disciplinary project is needed because those the predominant literature fail to address (or were just articulated before) the waves of cases brought before international criminal courts throughout the last decade. I start by examining how international criminal courts have specified the core elements of the definition and then assess if and how the predominant philosophical literature can account for it. I then argue that this legal-empirical inquiry leads to both refining the structure and revisiting the relevant jurisdiction of CAH.
As far as structure is concerned, I distinguish a third but neglected element in the structure of CAH, which I identify as the preparatory conditions of the crimes (the ‘PCs’). In relying on Joseph Raz’ concept of authority, I argue that reconstructing the PCs help to specify what it is about states that those crimes deeply pervert. While the PCs strikingly mirror the systematic and pre-emptive role of the state, those patterns are established to massively persecute, terrorize and finally odiously attack. As far as jurisdiction is concerned, I infer that the agent of CAH and the state in which those crimes occur become ‘answerable’ to the normative community of responsible states (following Anthony Duff’s accountability model). By establishing international trials, this normative community does justice not only to the victims by proving the crimes but also to the perpetrators by treating them as responsible members.