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Chapter Summary

Fundamental principles of fairness and justice demand that there be discrimination in both responsibility and punishment between the actual perpetrators of wrong and other members of a group to which the offenders may belong. For centuries, collective responsibility was considered an acceptable method of warfare, manifesting itself on the battlefield as collective punishments, hostage-takings, and reprisals against innocent persons. Judicial pronouncements regarding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes very often provide a bulwark against revisionism and the denial of atrocities. Law has not developed in ignorance of the debate on collective responsibility. It is hoped that the future evolution of international law also occurs with an awareness of the potential pitfalls associated with collective responsibility.

Keywords: collective responsibility; genocide; hostage-takings; international law



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