Symposium: Greenawalt’s International Criminal Law for Retributivists

I’m thrilled to host Sasha Greenawalt’s excellent new article International Criminal Law for Retributivists as the inaugural point of discussion for this blog.

In the early years of international criminal justice, Mark Drumbl and Rob Sloane argued, very eloquently, that retribution was not a viable basis for punishment in international criminal law.

Sasha takes issue with their approach, drawing heavily on a rich literature in the theory of criminal law. His article is brilliantly written, profound in scope, and has important real world implications.

At the same time, it will certainly not convince everyone. For that reason, I have cajoled Mark Drumbl, Adil Haque, Rob Sloane and Meg deGuzman to write blogs criticizing Greenawalt’s great piece. Of course, I’ll also invite Greenawalt to reply.

In terms of timing, I’ll post Drumbl and Haque’s responses in the coming days, then ask Greenawalt to respond to them later this week.

Rob Sloane and Meg deGuzman have agreed to reopen the debate in late December this year, so the discussion will take place in two split tranches. We’ll then give Greenawalt the final word.

So, welcome to all my friends and colleagues! It’s a real privilege to have you launching what I hope will become a central platform for these sorts of scholarly debates.

Why Another Blog?

Greetings! I’m glad to welcome you to this new blog. I wanted to begin by setting out what I think the particular identity of this forum will be and to distinguish it slightly from all the other excellent blogs that already exist on international criminal justice and connected fields. Why, in other words, have another blog?

In short, there are several reasons I wanted to begin this blog, many of which track my blogging manifesto, which is intended to act as a guide to guest bloggers. I elaborate on several of these below:

Respectful critique – I wanted to create a space that enabled respectful critique of new thinking in the various fields that interest me. Often I read excellent new research and want to engage quickly with central ideas in that research, without necessarily writing a substantial article in response. The blog provides that platform.

Rapid intervention in practice – I wanted to create a stage for presenting research quickly, in ways that could inform time-sensitive real-world processes. For example, I used EJIL Talk! to post a summary of several years of research into aiding and abetting in international criminal law to influence a judicial debate on these topics. Blogging can replace amicus briefs.

Predominantly theory – I read many very good blogs to get information about latest developments in the field of international criminal justice, but I also wanted to create a blog that would act as a clearinghouse for the best scholarly debates in these fields. I hope this site will be conceptual, eclectic, and scholarly, thereby complementing the other great sites that already exit.

Generating plural intellectual community – I’m not really intending to use this site to broadcast my own views as much as I am hopeful that it will become a place where a wide variety of scholars, from different backgrounds and sensibilities, engage in spirited debate. In a way, the site is an attempt at creating an inclusive intellectual community, instead of thinking of scholarly life in individualistic terms.

Celebrating excellent scholarship – From time to time, we all come across scholarship that’s so good it moves us. For me, Mirjan Damaška’s The Shadow Side of Command Responsibility was one of the first examples of this, and there’ve been several in the many years since. I wanted to create an outlet to celebrate other people’s work that registers at this level, to promote excellence, creativity and insight in fields that interest me.

So, with this short introduction, welcome again to the blog! I can’t guarantee that it will be the busiest site you visit, but I do hope it will be consistently intellectually stimulating.

 JGS