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6 - An Unresolved Contradiction

from Part III - Illustration through Application

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2020

Darryl Robinson
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
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Summary

At this moment, the literature and discourse on command responsibility is incredibly convoluted and controverted. I will show how these knots were produced by an underlying inadvertent contradiction with the culpability principle. The contradiction was created by surface-level doctrinal reasoning that did not adequately consider the deontic dimension. The subsequent twists and turns to deny, obscure, evade, or resolve this contradiction have led to increasingly complex and obscure claims about command responsibility.

The inquiry demonstrates the problems of inadequate attention to deontic limits. It also shows how deontic analysis can help us better understand the trajectory of the command responsibility debate. We can see old controversies in a new light and generate new prescriptions. I argue that command responsibility can be restored to its simple and elegant origins if it is recognized as a mode of accessory liability. As a result, the causal contribution requirement should be respected. This solution is not perfect, but I will show that this is the best reconciliation of the text, precedents, and the culpability principle. By resolving the core contradiction, the myriad complications and mystical evasions about command responsibility become unnecessary.

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Justice in Extreme Cases
Criminal Law Theory Meets International Criminal Law
, pp. 143 - 176
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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