Journal Article

The Philosophical Foundations of International Sentencing

Ralph Henham

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 1, issue 1, pages 64-85
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI:
The Philosophical Foundations of International Sentencing

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This article argues that there is a pressing need to re‐examine existing justifications for punishment in the context of international sentencing practice. It suggests that obfuscation and confusion by international sentencers in articulating the connections between penal justifications and sentencing practice not only undermines the development of rational sentencing principles, it also weakens the legitimacy of international punishment. It is argued that the links between philosophical justifications and normative practice in international sentencing must be clarified in order for sentencing to transcend the dynamics of retributivism and deterrence and engage more directly with victims and the concerns that produce and sustain conflict and social breakdown within victim communities. This requires an appreciation of the transformative capacity of sentencing and the connections that are made through sentence decision‐making between morally significant justifications and the legitimacy of punishment. Ultimately, the only way to legitimate the morality of international sentencing is by providing rationalizations for punishment which facilitate the convergence of notions of truth with justice.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law

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