Answering for International Crimes: Perspectives from Moral, Political and Legal Theory

Workshop hosted by post doctoral researcher Alain Zysset exploring the distinctiveness of international crimes from a moral, political and legal theory perspective.

This workshop aims to bring together a generation of young legal and political theorists to
discuss the core questions underlying the philosophy of international criminal law (ICL). The
interdisciplinary orientation of the workshop seeks to build upon and draw together existing
conversations in legal and political theory.
The existing legal theory literature concerning international criminality in recent years has
focused on the distinction between domestic and international crimes. International
offences—in contrast to domestic crimes—are subject to the jurisdiction of international
courts and universal jurisdiction. This raises the question of what explains, from a
philosophical standpoint, the distinctiveness of international crimes? The preamble to the
Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) offers some indication,
describing the international offences subject to the Court’s jurisdiction as “atrocities that
deeply shock the conscience of humanity”. But how does such a distinctive character justify
the particular jurisdictional regime applicable these crimes? Debates have approached such
questions primarily in relational terms: To whom should the accused wrongdoers answer for
their crimes? Which community justifies criminal tribunals to call wrongdoers to account?
The existing political theory literature has rather focused on the legitimacy of international
tribunals as a form of international institution beyond its penal character. This literature
suggests that international institutions should not mirror domestic institutions, but should
nevertheless fulfill a set of minimum criteria in order to be viewed as legitimate. In this
respect, scholars have criticized, for instance: the selectivity of ICC prosecutions as arbitrary;
the requirement of state consent as misplaced; the political influence of the UN Security
Council as status quo entrenching; or the failure of international criminal processes to engage sufficiently with local communities and procedures. Building on these burgeoning lines of debate, the PluriCourts workshop aims to connect the legal and political theory of the ICL with a view to encouraging innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship.
If you would be interested in taking part in this workshop, please contact Ester Strømmen.


Tags: Criminal law, Human Rights, Legitimacy
Published Feb. 22, 2017 10:23 AM - Last modified Feb. 21, 2020 7:55 AM