Criminal law and political community



Duff RA (2018) Criminal law and political community. International Journal of Constitutional Law, 16 (4), pp. 1251-1257.

Domestic criminal law is the law of a particular political community; it speaks in the voice of that community, about wrongs that count as "public" wrongs in the context of that community's civic life. However, can we understand international criminal law in similar terms, as the law of a specifiable political community? We cannot plausibly talk of "humanity" as a political community whose law international criminal law could be, but if we instead, and more plausibly, talk of the "community of nations," it is not clear what it would mean to portray international criminal law as the law of that community. It might be argued that this just shows it to be a mistake to try to connect criminal law to political community in this way: in response to that kind of criticism, I explore two ways in which we can try to explain the normative force of international criminal law in terms of an idea (or ideal) of political community.

International Journal of Constitutional Law: Volume 16, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online21/01/2019
Date accepted by journal21/01/2019

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Professor Antony Duff

Professor Antony Duff

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy