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Since Nuremberg, international punishment for mass atrocities is pervasive, as an idea and as a practice. In fact, many observers regard the institutionalization of international punishment – i.e., the incarceration of perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – as a progress and as a promise: The international community, by and large, seems to have, at least rhetorically, agreed that criminal punishment rather than impunity or, e.g., summary executions, is the adequate reaction to mass atrocities.
Ever since the trial against the major war criminals of World War II before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the institution of punishment has beenan integral part of the international legal system. Nowadays, a large number of perpetrators and accomplices of crimes under international law – i.e. genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – are being sent to jail by international judges. But why and to what aim do we punish individuals for their involvement in mass atrocities? How can we justify punishment by international criminal courts and tribunals vis-à-vis the affected individual? More generally: What are the (realistic) objectives of international criminal law?
This edited volume provides, for the first time, a comprehensive account of theoretical approaches to international punishment. Its main objective is to contribute to the development of a consistent and robust theory of international criminal punishment. For this purpose, the authors - renowned scholars in the fields of criminal law, international criminal law, and philosophy of law, as well as practitioners working at different international criminal courts and tribunals - address the question of meaning and purpose of punishment in international law from various perspectives. The volume fleshes out the predominant dimensions of a theory of international punishment and highlights the differences between 'ordinary' (domestic) crime and international crimes and their respective enforcement. At the same time, throughout the volume a major focus is on the practical consequences of the different theoretical approaches, in particular for the activities of the International Criminal Court.
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