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International Criminal Law, Causation, and Responsibility

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In this article, I explore the question whether criminal responsibility, within the international criminal law, should be considered as a causal notion. I start off with the connection between causation and criminal responsibility in general and introduce three more specific claims about this connection (Sections 1 and 2). Afterwards, I go on to examine a much-discussed case in international criminal law, the case of command responsibility from failure to punish, where responsibility for harmful effects is apparently attributed without causal control on the agent’s part (Section 3). I argue that, even in this case, the notion of responsibility must remain linked to causation in the ways discussed earlier, but try to show that the constraints arising from these links can be met.

Affiliations: 1: The Queen’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK


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