Front cover

Reconciling Responsibility with Reality - A Comparative Analysis of Modes of Active Leadership Liability in International Criminal Law
Series: International Criminal Justice Series

August 2023 Author: Dr Johannes Block, Public Prosecution Office, Cologne, Germany



  • Published: August 2023
  • Pages: xiv + 507 pp.
  • Publisher: T.M.C. ASSER PRESS
  • Distributor: Springer

This book explores the issue of leadership criminality from a new angle. By contrasting individual criminal responsibility for ordering international crimes with indirect perpetration through an organisation, it shows the doctrinal weaknesses of the latter and outlines the much-overlooked advantages of the former. The volume analyses the development of both forms of responsibility, looking at their origins, their reception in academia and practical use in jurisprudence.

The history of indirect perpetration through an organisation (Organisationsherrschaft) is portrayed from its German academic origin, through German jurisprudence to the reception of the doctrine at the International Criminal Court (ICC). By comparing the doctrine’s stages of evolution, the book sheds light on the different aspects of the various models of indirect perpetration through an organisation and carves out general and fundamental criticism of it. The characteristics of ordering liability are explored through an analysis of jurisprudence of the subsequent Nuremberg trials, the ad hoc tribunals and the ICC. This comparison reveals a mode of responsibility with enormous potential for the adjudication of leadership figures in the ambit of international criminal law and only one conclusion can follow from this analysis: it calls for practitioners and academics to leave the well-trodden paths of national criminal law doctrine and embrace truly international modes of liability such as the ordering of a crime.

This volume in the ICJ series provides practitioners, researchers and students with a detailed account of forms of leadership liability and an innovative approach to the topic’s most discussed issue.

Dr. Johannes Block is a criminal lawyer specializing in international criminal law, responsibility of leadership figures, questions of perpetration of and participation in crime as well as the national-socialists’ crimes. He studied in Münster, Germany and Bogotá, Colombia and obtained his Dr. iur. from the University of Cologne, where he also worked and taught as a research assistant. His legal clerkship led him to organized crime investigations, criminal defence, the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Justice.

Specific to this book:

  • Provides detailed doctrinal and historical analysis of German and international academic writing and jurisprudence
  • Studies the origins of indirect perpetration through an organisation from the German and international perspective
  • Analyses ordering liability as an alternative mode of responsibility for leaders in hitherto unknown detail

This is Volume 33 in the International Criminal Justice Series

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Front matter incl. toc
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