Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law
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Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law

Edited by Sarah Joseph and Adam McBeth

This innovative and timely Handbook brings together the work of 25 leading human rights scholars from all over the world to consider a broad range of human rights topics.
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Chapter 10: International Criminal Law

Elies van Sliedregt and Desislava Stoitchkova


Elies van Sliedregt and Desislava Stoitchkova 1 Introduction The term ‘international criminal law’ harbours various meanings. Traditionally it refers to the international aspects of national criminal law. It concerns the legal issues that arise when prosecuting cross-border crime. States conclude agreements and treaties on how to proceed when prosecuting such crimes. State sovereignty plays an important role in this type of ‘internationalised’ criminal law. Various designations are used to refer to it: transnational criminal law, horizontal international criminal law, or droit pénal international. Topics that are typically part of this type of law are: (i) extraterritorial jurisdiction, (ii) extradition, (iii) police and judicial cooperation, (iv) transfer of criminal proceedings and (v) transfer and execution of foreign judicial decisions. Many treaties have been concluded to shape such inter-State collaboration; some extradition treaties date back to the 16th century. Criminal cooperation agreements can be bilateral or multilateral. Multilateral treaties very often are the product of cooperation within a regional or international organisation such as the Council of Europe or the United Nations (the ‘UN’). In recent years, the European Union (the ‘EU’) has been active in setting up a cooperation regime in criminal matters for its Member States. This more informal and efficient regime replaces the classical inter-State criminal cooperation regime of the Council of Europe and is based on the principle of ‘mutual recognition’ of foreign judicial decisions, which limits the exercise of State sovereignty and requires States to recognise foreign judicial decisions as if they were their own. In...

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