Monday, 2 November 2009

Piracy, the Crime of Crimes?

There is a lot of talk about adding some new crimes to the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, or about setting up some new tribunal to deal with the scourge of piracy. I agree with Professor Antonio Cassese, who writes in his book International Criminal Law that piracy is not an international crime, in the sense that it 'was (and is) not punished for the sake of protecting a community value...' (2nd ed., p. 12, italics in the original). Piracy should not be lumped with the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. We do this intuitively when we romanticize pirates, something we do not do with génocidaires. I had to wait until Halloween to make this point, so that I could run a photo of my grandson Thomas. Don't expect him to dress up as Eichmann next year, because he reads his granddad's blog (he's not ready for Cassese for a few more years, I'm afraid)!


Deborah said...

Delighted with the insight AND the picture!

Luís Paulo said...

I completely agree with you and Cassese that Piracy is not an international crime properly speaking. Congratulations for your grandson and for this blog, I really enjoy reading your posts!

Dov Jacobs said...

on the other hand, Cassese should read over his own work before defending the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is only competent to try national crimes! Isn't that a total misuse of international justice?

Roger Derham said...

In 67 BCE the Gabinian Law was enacted to eradicate piracy in what was then the known 'world'. I touched on this and the 'local' nature of piracy in a blog of the 26th April at
Best Wishes,
Roger Derham

Dez said...


Thank you for the comments regarding the comparison of genocide and piracy.

It is an hyperbolic error for one to think these two and relate them to mass killing and human rights abuse.

I was at the genocide studies in Toronto last summer where I learned many things about genocide.

I was also fortunate to listen to your lectures during that period. I am currently taking a class titled "The problem of Genocide" and I want to inform you that I am using your lectures and notes because they are very useful.

Keep up the god work!

Dez Kamara (Sierra Leonean in Canada)