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Excusable Evil

An Analysis of Complete Defenses in International Criminal Law

Book | 1st edition 2014 | World | Maartje Krabbe

Could Hitler have pleaded insanity? Can a soldier participating in a massacre claim duress because his superior forced him? In domestic criminal law complete defenses, such as insanity and duress, are relatively common legal concepts. But what is the role of these arguments in international criminal law? Can horrific large-scale crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, ever be excused?

This book provides an analysis of cases featuring complete defenses before international criminal courts (IMT, IMTFE, ICTY, ICTR and ICC). The conclusion of the analysis is that international criminal courts recognize most complete defenses in principle. However, they consistently reject them in practice. Courts thus tend to say: “Insanity is available as a complete defense … but not in this case”. This conclusion raises questions as to the compatibility between complete defenses and international crimes: When they are never accepted in practice, should such defenses be available at all? The final Part of the book answers this question in the affirmative and provides recommendations on the contents of complete defenses in the field of international criminal justice.

Technical info
More Information
Type of product Book
Format Paperback
EAN / ISSN 9781780682044
Series name Human Rights Research Series
Weight 500 g
Status Available
Number of pages xxiii + 397 p.
Access to exercice No
Publisher Intersentia
Language English
Publication Date Jun 12, 2014
Available on Jurisquare No
Available on Strada Belgique No
Available on Strada Europe No
Available on Strada Luxembourg No


  • Table of Contents
  • Part I. A Theory of Complete Defenses
  • Chapter I. Introduction
  • Chapter II. A theoretical background on complete defenses
  • Part II. Complete Defenses in Practice
  • Introduction Part II
  • Chapter III. Self-defense
  • Chapter IV. Consent
  • Chapter V. Insanity
  • Chapter VI. Intoxication
  • Chapter VII. Mistake
  • Chapter VIII. Superior orders and prescription of law
  • Chapter IX. Necessity and duress
  • Chapter X. Belligerent reprisals
  • Chapter XI. Tu quoque
  • Chapter XII. Other possible complete defenses in international criminal law
  • Part III. Recommendations
  • Introduction Part III
  • Chapter XIII. Should complete defenses apply to international crimes?
  • Chapter XIV. How should complete defenses be applied under international criminal law (in general)?
  • Chapter XV. How should complete defenses be applied under international criminal law (for each defense)?
  • Chapter XVI. Summary and conclusion
  • Samenvatting
  • Bibliography