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Cover Cassese's International Criminal Law

10. Omission liability and superior responsibility  

Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta, Laurel Baig, Mary Fan, Christopher Gosnell, and Alex Whiting

This chapter discusses the notions of omission liability and superior responsibility. International criminal liability may arise not only as a result of a positive act but also from an omission; that is, the failure to take the required action. Omission is only criminalized when the law imposes a clear obligation to act and the person fails to do what is legally required. The post-Second World War tribunals recognized that both action and omission to act in accordance with a legal duty could fulfil the physical element (actus reus) of a crime. Additionally, the doctrine of superior responsibility (also referred to as command responsibility, since it originally developed in a military context) emerged in its modern form as a discrete and important type of omission liability in the post-war case law. Pursuant to this doctrine, a superior who omits to prevent or punish his subordinate’s criminal acts may be held criminally responsible.

Chapter

Cover Cassese's International Criminal Law

9. Perpetration: in particular joint and indirect perpetration  

Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta, Laurel Baig, Mary Fan, Christopher Gosnell, and Alex Whiting

This chapter discusses the two major theories that are currently in use in international criminal law to address group criminality: joint criminal enterprise; and co-perpetration by control over the crime. Under these theories, each participant will be treated as a principal, provided that he played a sufficiently important role in the commission of the crime. Gradations of culpability may be taken into account at the sentencing stage. In addition, although joint criminal enterprise focuses on shared intention and co-perpetration focuses on shared action, the application of either theory will yield the same result in most cases. Indirect perpetration is then analyzed.