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Crimes against humanity: Birth of a concept

by Norman Geras Manchester University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 144 pages
AU$42.99 NZ$43.47
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This book, newly available in paperback, tells the story of the emergence of the concept of crimes against humanity. It examines its origins, the ethical assumptions underpinning it, its legal and philosophical boundaries, and some of the controversies connected with it. A brief historical introduction is followed by an exploration of the various meanings of the term crimes against humanity that have been suggested; a definition is proposed linking it to the idea of basic human rights. The book looks at some problems with the boundaries of the concept, the threshold for its proper application and the related issue of humanitarian intervention. It concludes with a discussion of the prospects for the further development of crimes-against-humanity law.The work serves as a clear and compact introduction for students of politics, philosophy and law, as well as for the general reading public.

1. Origins and development
2. Why against humanity?
3. A jurisdictional threshold
4. Humanitarian intervention
5. Utopia into law
Appendix Review of Larry May

'This book represents a strong theoretical contribution and informative guide for both academics and practitioners dealing with the subject. In addition, this book is beneficial for a general non-specialist audience as an accessible tool in shedding light on one of the most topical, complicated and contentious issues in the sphere of contemporary international law.'
Rustam B. Atadjanov, Issue 1 of 2016 of the Journal of International Criminal Justice, July 2016

'Norman Geras's Crimes against humanity is an elegantly written and deeply humane work that examines the philosophical basis of one of the core crimes of international law.For a compact, thoughtful, and philosophically sophisticated discussion of a category of crime that has become central to international law and global politics, it would be difficult to do better than this volume.'
Andrew Altman, Springer: Criminal Law and Philosophy (2016)
The late Norman Geras was Professor Emeritus in Politics at the University of Manchester