Punishment as Prevention?

Donald Bloxham and Devin O. Pendas

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Punishment as Prevention?


This article is divided into three roughly chronological sections, each dealing with an important stage in the chequered history of the legalist paradigm. Despite the real innovations of the nineteenth century, people take the Nuremberg trials as starting point because the legal developments of the immediate post-war period served as the crucible for most subsequent developments in international legalism. Criminal trials are intended to punish crime. Such punishment has classically been justified in one of three ways, as retribution, as a means for preventing the perpetrator from committing similar crimes again in future, and as a way of deterring other potential offenders from engaging in similar crimes themselves. In addition, trials for genocide and crimes against humanity have often been justified as forms of political and moral pedagogy. In the end, though, none of these justifications make much sense when applied to genocide.

Keywords: legalist paradigm; international criminal law; criminal trials; Nuremberg trials; genocide; cold war; retribution; crimes against humanity

Article.  9642 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

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