As the authors to this splendid new textbook point out in their introduction, today's international criminal law regime has developed only since the 1990s. Nevertheless, as they show, this is a rapidly growing field of law, important for both perpetrators and their victims.
The team of authors is most impressive. Robert Cryer is a leading scholar; Hakan Friman is a Swedish judge and justice official; Darryl Robinson was a legal adviser at the International Criminal Court; and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, now a senior fellow at Chatham House, is renowned as the former deputy legal adviser at the British Foreign Office who, on 18 March 2003, resigned because of the illegality of the use of force against Iraq. She takes primary responsibility for the chapter on "Transnational crimes, terrorism and torture". When she observes that "the lawyer has also to consider whether the legal category of terrorism is useful or necessary in law ... ", I heartily agree.
The book is designed for students and practitioners. It is intended primarily for masters-level courses. The clarity of exposition means it can equally be used for undergraduates as a work of reference for courses in public international law and human rights. The compendious, well-organised free online support website contains links to useful resources, including sample course outlines, exercises and tutorials.
After exploring the nature and objectives of international criminal law, the authors start with an exploration of prosecutions in national courts, discussing key principles of the application of international law at the domestic level. An exposition of the trajectory of international criminal prosecutions follows, through the Nuremberg and Tokyo International Military Tribunals of 1945 and 1946, the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda created by the UN Security Council in 1992 and 1994 in response to gross human rights violations, and the ICC itself. Detailed consideration is given to each substantive international crime, as well as to the principles and procedures of international prosecution. Finally, the authors dissect the relationship between national and international systems, with special regard to the vexed question of immunities.
As the authors point out, 15 years ago such a large textbook on international criminal law would have been thought neither useful nor necessary. Now there is a large body of law and practice. However, they rightly conclude that there are still huge difficulties in achieving the rule of law in international criminal justice. International criminal law develops to the extent that "international society", sometimes described as the "anarchical society", has become an "international community". As they observe, the evidence that such a desirable outcome has really taken placed is still mixed - to say the least.
Who is it for? A reliable guide and resource for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
Presentation: Logical, clear and well supported.
Would you recommend it? Highly recommended.
An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure
Authors: Robert Cryer, Hakan Friman, Darryl Robinson and Elizabeth Wilmshurst
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Price: £31.99 and £70.00
ISBN 9780521876094 and 699549