Defences to international crimes

Authored by: Shane Darcy

Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415552035
eBook ISBN: 9780203836897
Adobe ISBN: 9781136866685


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The label ‘defences’ can be used to describe a range of excusing or justificatory answers to a criminal charge, or as ‘grounds for excluding criminal responsibility’, according to Article 31 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 1 Defences are often categorized as excuses or justifications, with a justification being a challenge as to whether the act was wrongful and an excuse involving acceptance that the act was wrongful but seeking to avoid attribution of criminal responsibility. 2 This chapter addresses defences to international crimes and is structured in two parts: the first considers those defences which have a counterpart in domestic criminal laws, such as duress, self-defence, mistake, or mental incapacity; and the second those defences which can be considered in some ways unique to international criminal law, such as superior orders and reprisal.

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