The Problem of Purpose in International Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Keenan addresses the problem of purposes in this Article, with two principal objectives. The first is to sort through the competing theories to identify the core purposes of international criminal law. The second is to show how those purposes are or can be put into effect in actual cases. These questions are important because the purposes for which the law is deployed significantly influence how it is deployed. Prosecutors bring different kinds of cases and argue different theories based at least in part on what they hope to achieve. For example, in the domestic context, prosecutors might choose to prioritize domestic violence cases to address that social problem, long neglected by law enforcement, at the expense of other kinds of cases.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-474
Number of pages54
JournalMichigan Journal of International Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • international criminal law
  • human rights law
  • International Law


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