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Moral Practices: Assigning Responsibility in the International Criminal Court

Hoover, J. (2013). Moral Practices: Assigning Responsibility in the International Criminal Court. Law and Contemporary Problems, 76(3), pp. 263-286.


Who has the authority to assign responsibility for international crimes? There is a simple answer: international tribunals, in particular the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet this obvious response obscures further questions regarding where the political authority to create international tribunals comes from, as well as the vital moral question regarding how courts are constituted as actors with the capacity to assign blame. In modern international politics, authority has traditionally rested with states, meaning that rightful legal institutions were created by states and justified by their consent. The ICC is granted authority in this way, because it was created through a treaty negotiated and signed by states. Such a procedural response, however, obscures as much as it reveals about the politics and morality of assigning responsibility for international crimes. Asking how a new international authority is constituted and justified as an actor with the political power to try state officials and other international criminals—and to thereby embody and defend supposedly emergent norms of global justice—is a more contentious and difficult question that takes us beyond questions of positive law.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2013 the author
Publisher Keywords: International Criminal Court, International Criminal Law, Responsibility, Practice, John Dewey, Uganda
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
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