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Shocking the Conscience of Humanity – Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Shocking the Conscience of Humanity: Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law

Margaret M. deGuzman


The most commonly cited justification for international criminal law is that it addresses crimes of such gravity that they “shock the conscience of humanity.” From decisions about how to define crimes and when to exercise jurisdiction, to limitations on defenses and sentencing determinations, gravity rhetoric permeates the discourse of international criminal law. Yet the concept of gravity remains highly undertheorized. This book uncovers the consequences for the regime’s legitimacy of its heavy reliance on this poorly understood idea. It argues that gravity’s ambiguity may at times enable a t ... More

Keywords: international criminal law, gravity, legitimacy, seriousness, crimes, jurisdiction, punishment, global community, criminal law theory, goals

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780198786153
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198786153.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Margaret M. deGuzman, author
Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law