Journal Article

Parochial versus Universal Criminal Law

George P. Fletcher

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 3, issue 1, pages 20-34
Published in print March 2005 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI:
Parochial versus Universal Criminal Law

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This paper takes two legislative developments in the English-speaking world — the precedent of statutory criminalization of treason in England, and the establishment of federal criminal law in the United States — and compares them with the development of two distinct branches of supranational criminal law: international criminal law and European criminal law. In doing so, the author demonstrates two different approaches to criminal law and the way in which criminal law can be used to protect different values. The author argues that the criminalization of certain violations follows two distinct patterns. In some cases, criminal law aims at preserving self-interest: for example, in the EU, this has taken the form of concentrating efforts to criminalize fraud against the EU's budget. This is what the author calls ‘parochial criminal law’. In other cases, criminal law has the broader purpose of pursuing the protection of universal interests: this is the case of the provisions criminalizing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The author concludes with some suggestions for reform of the general parts of both international criminal law and European criminal law.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law

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