Shocking the Conscience of Humanity – Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law

with Margaret M. deGuzman


The Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice invites you to a seminar with

Professor Margaret M. deGuzman
Shocking the Conscience of Humanity – Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law


Professor Margaret M. deGuzman

Professor deGuzman will introduce and discuss her book Shocking the Conscience of Humanity: Gravity and the Legitimacy of International Criminal Law (OUP, 2020). The most commonly cited justification for international criminal law is that it addresses crimes of such gravity that they “shock the conscience of humanity.” From decisions about how to define crimes and when to exercise jurisdiction, to limitations on defences and sentencing determinations, gravity rhetoric permeates the discourse of international criminal law. Yet the concept of gravity has thus far remained highly undertheorized. Her book uncovers the consequences for the regime’s legitimacy of its heavy reliance on the poorly understood idea of gravity. She argues that gravity’s ambiguity may at times enable a thin consensus to emerge around decisions, such as the creation of an institution or the definition of a crime, but that, increasingly, it undermines efforts to build a strong and resilient global justice community. The book suggests ways to reconceptualize gravity in line with global values and goals to better support the long-term legitimacy of international criminal law.

Margaret M. deGuzman is James E. Beasley Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy at Temple Law School, and a judge of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), currently reserve judge in the Kabuga case. She specializes in criminal law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and transitional justice. She also teaches a course on mindful lawyering. Her scholarship examines the role of international criminal law in the global legal order, with a particular focus on the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 


This is an in-person seminar.
Registration:, latest the same day.