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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

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Making Sense of Mass Atrocity

ISBN13: 9780521861854
Published: October 2009
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £72.00
Paperback edition , ISBN13 9781107403185

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Genocide, crimes against humanity, and the worst war crimes are possible only when the state or other organizations mobilize and coordinate the efforts of many people. Responsibility for mass atrocity is therefore always widely shared, often by thousands. Yet criminal law, with its liberal underpinnings, insists on blaming particular individuals for isolated acts. Is such law therefore constitutionally unable to make any sense of the most catastrophic conflagrations of our time? Drawing on the experience of several recent prosecutions (both national and international), this book trenchantly diagnoses law’s limits at such times and offers a spirited defense of its moral and intellectual resources for meeting the vexing challenge of holding anyone criminally accountable for mass atrocity. Just as today’s war criminals develop new methods of eluding law’s historic grasp, so criminal law flexibly devises novel responses to their stratagems. Mark Osiel examines several such recent legal innovations in international jurisprudence and proposes still others.

  • Provides suggestions on how to convict heads of state and military leaders for mass atrocities, especially how to link the plans of the big fish to the acts of the small fry
  • Demonstrates the problems that the law faces in trying to pinpoint blame for mass atrocity when responsibility is widely shared among hundreds or thousands of people, as in authoritarian regimes or wars
  • Shows how the practice of international criminal law is taking shape as a professional field with internal norms and practices very different from prosecution at the national level in post-conflict societies, where trials for mass atrocity follow a very different course

International Criminal Law
1. The challenge of prosecuting mass atrocity
Part I. Legal Rules and Their Problems
2. The responsibility of superiors
3. Participating in a criminal enterprise
4. Defining the criminal enterprise
Part II. The Political Context of Legal Choice
5. Must national prosecutions serve global concerns?
6. The conflicting incentives of national and international prosecutors
Part III. New Possibilities and Solutions
7. The bureaucracy of murder
8. Collective sanctions for collective wrong
9. The collective responsibility of military officers
10. Being economical with amnesty.