Criminal Law Forum

, Volume 25, Issue 1–2, pp 261–290 | Cite as

Holding Collectives Accountable

The UNWCC’s Undervalued Role in Developing Collective Responsibility, Yesterday and Today
  • Kip Hale
  • Donna Cline


This article argues that there is a need to understand better the legal origins of collective responsibility, as well as to provide additional material for further judicial interpretation of this form of responsibility. For the purposes of this article, collective responsibility refers to the form of individual criminal responsibility that holds individuals accountable for the criminal purpose or objective of a group where they acted in concert with others or otherwise contributed to the fulfillment of the common criminal plan. To spur on further inquiry into the subject of collective responsibility specifically, this article examines the contribution of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) to the development of this mode of liability and discusses how it is relevant today. In order to provide sufficient background information on this subject matter, this article begins by presenting an overview of the evolution of collective responsibility from Nuremberg to where it stands in practice at the ICC. Finally, the article will demonstrate how the Commission’s diplomatic exchanges in tandem with cases under its supervision contributed to early formation of customary international law and how these historical events are important today.


International Criminal Court Collective Responsibility Criminal Organization Rome Statute International Criminal Tribunal 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Bar AssociationCenter for Human RightsWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.The Charleston School of LawCharlestonUSA

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