Journal Article

Can Romantics and Liberals be Reconciled?

Harmen G. van der Wilt

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 7, issue 3, pages 529-539
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI:
Can Romantics and Liberals be Reconciled?

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In their thought-provoking study, Defending Humanity: When Force is Justified and Why?, Fletcher and Ohlin investigate the analogies between individual self-defence in criminal law and collective self-defence in international law. This paper seeks to pursue this intriguing issue, by focusing on a tension between the normative aspiration to separate both components rigidly and social reality in which they are blurred. Obviously, the latter stems from man being a social animal, a situation which is reinforced in time of war, when he identifies himself — and is identified by others — with a collective. Like Fletcher and Ohlin, the author acknowledges international criminal law's mission to bridge the gap between the collective and individual aspects of warfare. But different from Fletcher and Ohlin, whose intellectual quest compels them to highlight the Romantic preoccupation with the collective aspects of warfare, the author emphasizes the need for an individualistic counterweight. In his opinion, such a reappraisal of the individual dimension deeply influences the assessment of both collective and individual self-defence as well as their mutual relationship.

Journal Article.  4945 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law

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