Making Sense of Mass Atrocity by Mark Osiel

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Genocide, crimes against humanity, and the worst war crimes are possible only when the state or other organisations mobilise and co-ordinate the efforts of many people. Responsibility for mass atrocity is always widely shared, often by thousands. Yet criminal law, with its liberal underpinnings, prefers to blame particular individuals for isolated acts. Is such law, therefore, constitutionally unable to make any sense of the most catastrophic conflagrations of our time? Drawing on the experience of several prosecutions, this book both trenchantly diagnoses the law's limits at such times and offers a spirited defence of its moral and intellectual resources for meeting the vexing challenge of holding anyone criminally accountable for mass atrocity. Just as war criminals develop new methods of eluding law's historic grasp, so criminal law flexibly devises novel responses to their stratagems. Mark Osiel examines several such legal innovations in international jurisprudence and proposes still others.

About Mark Osiel

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Mark Osiel's writings seek to show how legal responses to mass atrocity can be improved by understanding its organizational dynamics, as revealed through comparative historical analysis. His writings have inspired several conferences and are assigned at many leading universities in North America and Western Europe, in a number of fields. He lives in The Hague, where he is director of public international law programs at the T.M.C. Asser Institute, a think tank associated with the University of Amsterdam. His books include Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory & the Law (1997), Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War (1999), Mass Atrocity, Ordinary Evil, and Hannah Arendt: Criminal Consciousness in Argentina's Dirty War (2002), and The End of Reciprocity: Terror, Torture & the Law of War (2009). Osiel lectures widely on humanitarian law, both abroad and at the U.S. war colleges. He regularly consults to international organizations and governments in post-conflict societies on issues of transitional justice. His articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, Pennsylvania Law Review, Human Rights Quarterly, Law & Social Inquiry, and Representations, among others. Osiel has been a visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the London School of Economics, as well as universities in Argentina, Brazil, France, and India (as a Fulbright lecturer).
Published July 31, 2009 by Cambridge University Press. 277 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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