DOI: 10.5553/CAYILIR/277314562022001001014

Central Asian Yearbook of International Law and International RelationsAccess_open

Book Review

Olivier Beauvallet (ed.), Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la justice pénale internationale (Berger-Levrault, 2017), 1052 pp.

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Rustam B. Atadjanov, 'Olivier Beauvallet (ed.), Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la justice pénale internationale (Berger-Levrault, 2017), 1052 pp.', (2022) Central Asian Yearbook of International Law and International Relations 278-282

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      En effet, le but d’une Encyclopédie est de rassembler les connoissances éparses sur la surface de la terre; d’en exposer le système général aux hommes avec qui nous vivons, & de le transmettre aux hommes qui viendront après nous; afin que les travaux des siecles passés n’aient pas été des travaux inutiles pour les siecles qui succéderont; que nos neveux, devenant plus instruits, deviennent en même temps plus vertueux & plus heureux, & que nous ne mourions pas sans avoir bien mérité du genre humain”.1xDiderot D (2018) Encyclopédie. In R Morrissey and G Roe (eds), ARTFL Encyclopédie, Vol. 5, pp. 635-648A. https://artflsrv03.uchicago.edu/philologic4/encyclopedie0521/navigate/5/2355/. Accessed 17 February 2022.

      This entry on “Encyclopédie” made by Diderot to the famous French “Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts,” describes well the goal of any encyclopedia: to assemble the knowledge, to demonstrate the general system and to transmit it (the knowledge) to the people. On the other hand, a dictionary focuses mainly on the exact word definition, scrutiny of its different forms and sometimes an etymology. In its turn, an encyclopedic dictionary combines the strengths of both; it offers a more complete description, with a choice of entries arranged alphabetically and selected to convey a range of knowledge. In the case of the impressive volume under review, those noble goals are set with respect to one specific field: international criminal justice.
      Today, the topicality of international criminal justice issues lies (regrettably), beyond any question, with scholarly and practical debates on its various aspects, i.e., substantive part, procedural issues, historical evolution, enforcement problems, current challenges, future prospects, etc., going on and on.2xFor a useful overview of those issues see, for example, Henham R and Findlay M (eds) (2011) Exploring the Boundaries of International Criminal Justice. Ashgate, Burlington. In order to be able to navigate the complicated subject matter of those debates, one needs to acquire a firm understanding of the fundamental elements of the modern system of international criminal justice as well as the underlying theory and present practice. This is where the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” serves as a comprehensive but also sufficiently detailed reference tool.
      The volume aims at describing, in a notably accessible manner (and language), a system that derives from legal branches, primarily, international criminal law, and that necessarily carries legal features whose major aim is the delivery of retributive justice. This definitely represents a difficult undertaking, considering the complicated founding concepts and principles on which international criminal law and related branches of law are based. The “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” laudably covers several important notions, values and principles pertinent to international law, in general, and the law of international crimes as well as humanitarian and criminal law, in particular. Among them are humanity (Humanité, pp. 524-527), international community (Communauté internationale, pp. 195-196), universal jurisdiction (Compétence universelle, pp. 197-200), principle of complementarity (Complémentarité (princip de), pp. 201-203), armed conflict (Conflit armé, pp. 212-218), jus cogens (pp. 590-593), superior responsibility (Responsabilité du supérieur hiérarchique, pp. 855-858), and others.3xFor the sake of fairness, it must be noted that several other important and even fundamental notions have not been covered as independent entries or have not even been mentioned once. Those include the famous Martens Clause (on the other hand, the Lieber Code does figure in the dictionary, see Code Lieber, pp. 179-180), peace and security of mankind (as a protected interest of international law), although it has briefly been explained under Bilan, pp. 131-131, and the cornerstone principle of individual criminal responsibility as a legal category. Within the limits of a dictionary format, the authors managed to introduce the key aspects of those significant concepts, noting interdisciplinary approaches where needed. For example, the complex concept of humanity is viewed from legal and legal historical perspectives: the entry’s author poses a question: “[Q]u’est-ce qu’être un être humain, comment le definir en termes de droit?” and briefly considers “humanity’s conceptual history within the context of his question from the ancient Roman legal sources up to present-day instruments of law”.4xAn explanation of the reach content of the concept of humanity, with its multiple meanings, both in legal terms and beyond, and the role they played in the development of international (criminal) law and the establishment of individual criminal responsibility is lacking. The controversial definitional aspects of the legal/non-legal concepts found in the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” as well as the discourse on their legal value-related problematic have also been brought to the reader’s attention (see, e.g., Communauté internationale, pp. 195-196; Responsabilité de protéger, pp. 851-854).
      Another notable characteristic of the volume under review is its explanation of the material part of international criminal law (justice). While all four core crimes under international law whose modern definitions are found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court5xRome Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted 17 July 1998, entered into force on 1 July 2002, 2187 UNTS 90, Art. 6, 7, 8 and 8 bis. are included (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression), the book equally contains article entries on terrorism (Terrorisme, pp. 918-920) and torture (Torture, pp. 926-927), two other distinctive international crimes often described as such in classical scholarly accounts.6xFor example, as found in Cassese A (2003) International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press; Cherif Bassiouni M (ed) (2008) International Criminal Law, 3rd ed., Volume I: Sources, Subjects and Contents. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden. That represents the current progressive trend towards elevating, so to speak, the status of these crimes to that of core crimes, too (at least from the point of view of scholarly discussion). Moreover, the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” goes beyond the classical approach in its inclusion of the descriptions of what are known as international crimes (Crimes internationaux, pp. 298-302), mass crime (Crime de masse, pp. 281-284) and organized transnational crime (Crime organisé transnational, pp. 285-287). To ease the reader’s understanding, the distinction between core crimes and other international crimes has been vividly presented by comparing both categories with two concentric circles, internal and external:

      les crimes tombant sous la jurisdiction de la CPI pourraient être représentés comme le cercle intérier de deux cercles concentriques, le cercle extéerier symbolisant la totalité des crimes définis par le droit international (p. 302).

      The comprehensive scope of the volume encompasses the relevant branches of international law that constitute the legal framework for the contemporary system of international criminal justice: international criminal law (Droit international pénal, pp. 367-370), the so-called criminal international law (Droit pénal international, pp. 371-374), international humanitarian law (Droit international humanitaire, pp. 360-366), human rights law (Droit de l’Homme, pp. 350-355) as well as international customary law (Droit international coutimier, pp. 356-359). The systematic layout of those disciplines, their basic elements, objects and some principles and difficulties of implementation deserve mention. In addition, there are entries on some of the most influential judicial cases, at both the international and the national levels, that have shaped or that continue shaping the modern contours of international criminal justice, such as Akayesu (pp. 57-59), Barbie (pp. 119-122), Bemba (pp. 125-126), Eichmann (pp. 389-390) and Tadic (pp. 905-907). The same goes for key judicial institutions of the system. Starting with the main Nuremberg Tribunal (Nuremberg, pp. 689-693) and ending with the International Criminal Court (Cour pénale internationale (création / structure), pp. 256-265), the corresponding articles provide a systemic and in some cases quite a meticulous account of the travaux préparatoires, creation, objectives, functions, jurisdiction and other significant aspects of these judicial bodies, while trying to highlight their legal value as well as to underline realistically the challenges that the courts and tribunals experience(d) in their work.
      The coverage of historical contributors to the theory and practice of international criminal law and justice deserves a separate note. It goes without saying that such personalities as Hugo Grotius, Immanuel Kant, Emmer de Vattel, Hersch Lauterpacht, Robert Jackson and Raphael Lemkin merit fully – as they were – to be included in a volume of this high caliber. Thanks to their work, a fundamental ground was laid for the modern system of international justice as we know it. The volume could have benefited even more if it also included some other outstanding “faces of international law” who had contributed no less valuable input to the development of the law of international crimes: e.g., Benjamin Ferencz, Antonio Cassese, and Cherif Bassiouni.7xThey feature and are referenced throughout the volume but did not receive their own encyclopedic entries. Their omission might be due to space constraints, but this could be remedied in future editions of the dictionary.
      Lastly, the language aspect must be mentioned. The fact that the dictionary is published in French does not preclude access to or limit its use to the francophone world. While there might be claims that the significance of French today as an official language of diplomacy or international relations has diminished,8xSee, e.g., Crossette B (2001, 25 March) Diplomatically, French Is a Faded Rose in an English Garden. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/25/world/diplomatically-french-is-a-faded-rose-in-an-english-garden.html?nytmobile=0. Accessed 17 February 2022; S.A.P. (2013, 2 April) Languages of Diplomacy: Towards a Fairer Distribution. https://www.economist.com/johnson/2013/04/02/towards-a-fairer-distribution. Accessed 17 February 2022; see for cf. Martin M-H (2010, 17 February) Don’t Say Au Revoir to French Just Yet. https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/feb/11/france-official-language-battle. Accessed 17 February 2022. the reality shows that it does not stop an interested reader from studying legal and scholarly sources written in Hugo’s language. It is known precisely as “la langue académique,” and there is a constantly growing number of international lawyers and students who master it not only for the sake of its beauty or romantic appeal but also for academic purposes. At the end of the day, French is an international language of literature and scientific standards; it is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and the second most studied language worldwide.9xWood M (ed) (2017, 13 March) How Many People Speak French, And Where Is It Spoken?. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-many-people-speak-french-and-where-is-french-spoken. Accessed 17 February 2022. All the more so, the language style used in the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” is easy to comprehend and is not cumbersome. This is especially surprising given the diverse range of profiles among the dictionary’s contributors: there are academicians – professors, lecturers and researchers, as well as practitioners – judges, lawyers, consultants, legal advisers and representatives of states. This is therefore a rare case of unity of style and language for a holistic collection of knowledge of this kind and form.
      In sum, the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la justice pénale internationale” represents a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate and mostly up-to-date recueil of 250 brief encyclopedic articles covering multiple key aspects of the modern system of international criminal justice. It also takes into account the current developments that the system is undergoing while succinctly delineating its challenges too. The dictionary’s substantive scope could even be enhanced further by adding some critical concepts of international criminal law (protected values, some general principles of law, etc.) that are currently missing in the list of entries. It can be done by way of introducing them in future editions of the volume if planned. Nevertheless, the “Dictionnaire encyclopédique” is strongly recommended for use and reference for any legal specialists, jurists, and students working in the sphere of international criminal law and justice.

      References
    • Cassese A (2003) International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press.

    • Cherif Bassiouni M (2008) International Criminal Law, 3rd ed., Volume I: Sources, Subjects and Contents. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden.

    • Diderot D (2018) Encyclopédie. In R Morrissey and G Roe (eds), ARTFL Encyclopédie, Vol. 5, pp. 635. https://artflsrv03.uchicago.edu/philologic4/encyclopedie0521/navigate/5/2355/.

    • Henham R and Findlay M (2011) Exploring the Boundaries of International Criminal Justice. Ashgate, Burlington.

    Noten

    • * This piece reflects the views of the reviewer alone and not necessarily those of the University or any other entity.
    • 1 Diderot D (2018) Encyclopédie. In R Morrissey and G Roe (eds), ARTFL Encyclopédie, Vol. 5, pp. 635-648A. https://artflsrv03.uchicago.edu/philologic4/encyclopedie0521/navigate/5/2355/. Accessed 17 February 2022.

    • 2 For a useful overview of those issues see, for example, Henham R and Findlay M (eds) (2011) Exploring the Boundaries of International Criminal Justice. Ashgate, Burlington.

    • 3 For the sake of fairness, it must be noted that several other important and even fundamental notions have not been covered as independent entries or have not even been mentioned once. Those include the famous Martens Clause (on the other hand, the Lieber Code does figure in the dictionary, see Code Lieber, pp. 179-180), peace and security of mankind (as a protected interest of international law), although it has briefly been explained under Bilan, pp. 131-131, and the cornerstone principle of individual criminal responsibility as a legal category.

    • 4 An explanation of the reach content of the concept of humanity, with its multiple meanings, both in legal terms and beyond, and the role they played in the development of international (criminal) law and the establishment of individual criminal responsibility is lacking.

    • 5 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted 17 July 1998, entered into force on 1 July 2002, 2187 UNTS 90, Art. 6, 7, 8 and 8 bis.

    • 6 For example, as found in Cassese A (2003) International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press; Cherif Bassiouni M (ed) (2008) International Criminal Law, 3rd ed., Volume I: Sources, Subjects and Contents. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden.

    • 7 They feature and are referenced throughout the volume but did not receive their own encyclopedic entries.

    • 8 See, e.g., Crossette B (2001, 25 March) Diplomatically, French Is a Faded Rose in an English Garden. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/25/world/diplomatically-french-is-a-faded-rose-in-an-english-garden.html?nytmobile=0. Accessed 17 February 2022; S.A.P. (2013, 2 April) Languages of Diplomacy: Towards a Fairer Distribution. https://www.economist.com/johnson/2013/04/02/towards-a-fairer-distribution. Accessed 17 February 2022; see for cf. Martin M-H (2010, 17 February) Don’t Say Au Revoir to French Just Yet. https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/feb/11/france-official-language-battle. Accessed 17 February 2022.

    • 9 Wood M (ed) (2017, 13 March) How Many People Speak French, And Where Is It Spoken?. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-many-people-speak-french-and-where-is-french-spoken. Accessed 17 February 2022.

This piece reflects the views of the reviewer alone and not necessarily those of the University or any other entity.

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