Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Criminal Law

Research Handbook on International Criminal Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Bartram S. Brown

This carefully regarded and well-structured handbook covers the broad range of norms, practices, policies, processes and institutional mechanisms of international criminal law, exploring how they operate and continue to develop in a variety of contexts. Leading scholars in the field and experienced practitioners have brought together their expertise and perspectives in a clear and concise fashion to create an authoritative resource, which will be useful and accessible even to those without legal training.

Chapter 2: The vanishing relevance of state affiliation in international criminal law: private security contractors and other non-state actors

John Cerone

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


John Cerone INTRODUCTION Much has been made recently of international law’s deficiencies in grappling with violence perpetrated by non-state actors. From transnational terrorist networks to private security contractors (PSCs), organizations that are not officially part of the apparatus of any state are increasingly engaged in protracted episodes of intense violence, giving rise to questions of accountability under international law. Does international law provide rules applicable to such conduct? While the repression of crime, especially that perpetrated by non-state actors, has traditionally been left to the internal law of states, most international jurists will point to the ancient rules of international law pertaining to piracy in support of the proposition that international law has always governed criminal activity by non-state actors. Today, these same jurists can point to article 25(2) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which provides for individual criminal responsibility of perpetrators without any reference to state affiliation. In light of the correspondence between these ancient and modern rules of international law, why is there such controversy over the responsibility of non-state actors under international criminal law? In order to understand the controversy, it is essential first to recognize that Grotius’ condemnation of pirates as guilty of violating the law of nations had a very different legal character from the concept of individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute. For Grotius, the pirate was guilty of violating natural law,1 a body of law that bound individuals in the first place, and only by...

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