Duress as an Excuse Defence for International Crimes

  • Windell NortjeEmail author
  • Noëlle Quénivet


The application of duress as a justification defence by national and international criminal tribunals has resulted largely in a number of accused failing to invoke successfully the defence. This chapter therefore examines the application of duress as an excuse as opposed to a justification defence. By revisiting and applying duress as an excuse rather than a justification, an interpretation of the defence of duress in a way that more accurately reflects the reality faced by child soldiers is explored. This would enable child soldiers as well as adult perpetrators to invoke it more or less successfully in armed conflict. Nonetheless, many child soldiers would still find it difficult to raise duress as a complete defence due to the application of the strict criteria of duress under international criminal law. Therefore, even if interpreted in a different light, duress is not the ultimate defence as so often claimed by legal scholars.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Bristol Law SchoolUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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