CYIL vol. 12 (2021)

milan lipovský

CYIL 12 (2021)

Gerhard Werle and Florian Jeßberger Principles of International Criminal Law, 4 th edition

2020: Oxford, Oxford University Press, 720 pp. 1 [Principy mezinárodního trestního práva. 4. vydání]

The already well-known publication on International Criminal Law written by Gerhard Werle and Florian Jeßberger (in cooperation with others) has seen its 4 th edition last year and once again makes a great contribution to the library of international criminal lawyers. As the authors mention in the preface themselves, much has happened in international criminal law (ICL) since the last edition was published in 2014. The majority of case law of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was issued in the last 7 years, the definition of the crime of aggression was activated, number of State Parties to the amendment on the crime of aggression slowly grew to now 41 and political tensions lead to the withdrawal of Burundi and the Philippines from the Rome Statute to give some examples. While some of the developments were considered as a step forward, there has also been strong criticism from states and doctrine regarding certain topics, such as the attitude of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC to non-state parties’ heads of state immunities. Thus, the material for the new edition was rich and the edition largely reflects upon that. The book is divided into 6 chapters dealing individually with: (1) foundations, (2) general principles, (3) the crime of genocide, (4) crimes against humanity, (5) war crimes, and (6) the crime of aggression. Even from the topics chosen, it is clear that the authors have decided to restrict their understanding of international criminal law to the application and interpretation of crimes under international law, i.e., they do not deal with transnational crimes. That also allows them to focus on the developments in front of the ICC particularly as it (logically) only has jurisdiction over those 4 crimes. The first chapter dedicated to foundations logically starts with historical developments since the Versailles Peace Treaty and the unsuccessful attempt to prosecute the Kaiser, in order to continue to Nuremberg and Tokyo, cold war developments mostly signified by the work of the International Law Commission of the United Nations, and finally arrives to the most significant period that began in the 1990s with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The entire section is developing to the culmination in the Rome Statute (“RS”) and the authors do not just describe the development, they also briefly contribute to the current discussions on the fragmentation of international law. The authors then continue with a theoretical discussion on topics such as legitimacy as well as enforcement in international criminal law. As the case of al Bashir in front of the ICC clearly shows, the issue of legitimacy is extremely up to date. Before dealing with particular crimes in chapter 3 and the following, chapter 2 remains within the sphere of general topics such as mens rea , inchoate offences, immunities etc. Unlike the ad hoc tribunals’ statutes that often omitted to properly deal with these legal tools 1 Gerhard Werle and Florian Jeßberger, Principles of International Criminal Law (4 th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 720 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-882685-9, price hardback £150.00 / paperback £ 49.99, also available as an ebook.


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