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Washington & Lee Professor, International Expert and Author Offers Free Lecture on Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law

Mark Drumbl rethinks how perpetrators of atrocity crimes should be punished

5/30/2007 10:31:25 AM


LYNCHBURG — The author of Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law will lecture Thursday, May 31 at 4 p.m. in Martin 415 as part of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College’s Summer Research program. The event is free and open to the public.

In Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law, Mark Drumbl rethinks how perpetrators of atrocity crimes should be punished. After first reviewing the sentencing practices of courts and tribunals that censure genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, he concludes that these practices fall short of the goals that international criminal law ascribes to punishment, in particular retribution and deterrence. This raises the question whether international prosecutorial and correctional preferences are as effective as we hope. Drumbl argues that the pursuit of accountability for extraordinary atrocity crimes should not uncritically adopt the methods and assumptions of ordinary liberal criminal law. He calls for fresh thinking to confront the collective nature of mass atrocity and the disturbing reality that individual membership in group-based killings is often not maladaptive or deviant behavior but, rather, adaptive or conformist behavior. This book deploys a bold, and adventurously pluralist, interpretation of classical notions of cosmopolitanism to advance the frame of international criminal law to a broader construction of atrocity law and a more meaningful understanding of justice. Drumbl concludes by offering concrete reforms. He urges contextual responses to atrocity that welcome bottom-up perspectives, including restorative, reparative, and reintegrative traditions that may differ from the adversarial Western criminal trial.

Drumbl is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor at the School of Law, Washington and Lee University, where he also serves as Director of the Transnational Law Institute. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University (University College), Trinity College Dublin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Ottawa. In 2005, his academic work received the Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Papers Prize and, in 2003, the International Association of Penal Law (U.S. Section) Best Article Prize. He studied at McGill University (B.A., M.A.), Institut d’études politiques, University of Toronto (LL.B.), and Columbia University (LL.M., J.S.D.). When he was a graduate student at Columbia Law School in 1998, his work on Rwanda received the Gitelson/Meyerowitz Human Rights Prize. In 2001, another of his publications on Rwanda was heralded as "exemplary" in its treatment of "the possibilities of the coexistence of victims and survivors within the same society after the event" in the Times Literary Supplement.

Dr. Drumbl has lectured and published extensively on international law, human rights, and criminal justice. He has worked in the Rwandan prisons and as defense counsel in Rwanda’s genocide trials. He has been an expert on international law in litigation in the U.S. federal courts, has taught in a variety of places — including Pakistan and Brazil — and, from 1994 to 1995, served as judicial clerk to a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Drumbl’s legal practice experience also includes representation of the Canadian Chief-of-Defense Staff with regard to the Royal Commission investigating military wrongdoing in the United Nations Somalia Mission. He is a frequent media commentator.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations