Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Reducing Genocide to Law
Definition, Meaning, and the Ultimate Crime


Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: January 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521824415

£ 72.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Could the prevailing view that genocide is the ultimate crime be wrong? Is it possible that it is actually on an equal footing with war crimes and crimes against humanity? Is the power of the word genocide derived from something other than jurisprudence? And why should a hierarchical abstraction assume such importance in conferring meaning on suffering and injustice? Could reducing a reality that is beyond reason and words into a fixed category undermine the very progress and justice that such labelling purports to achieve? For some, these questions may border on the international law equivalent of blasphemy. This original and daring book, written by a renowned scholar and practitioner who was the first Legal Advisor to the UN Prosecutor at The Hague, is a probing reflection on empathy and our faith in global justice.

    • Reflections from one of the first UN war crimes prosecutors, who is also a recognised scholar and practitioner
    • Goes beyond conventional treatises on the law of genocide that remain oblivious to how jurisprudence is profoundly shaped by human emotion and the limits of language as a medium for capturing such realities
    • Daring and penetrating treatment of a taboo subject that contributes to a better understanding of how we confront radical evil and suffering
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Without a doubt, the first half of the book is the best, as it deals with what Akhavan clearly knows inside and out: domestic and international criminal law … Akhavan provides an excellent analysis of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's jurisprudence on the crime of genocide as well as a solid review of the many debates surrounding the meaning, legal and otherwise, of this particular atrocity.' Maureen S. Hiebert, Canadian Yearbook of International Law

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521824415
    • length: 210 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 158 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The power of a word
    2. The taxonomy of crimes
    3. The core elements of international crimes
    4. A hierarchy of international crimes?
    5. Naming the nameless crime
    6. Who owns 'genocide'?
    7. Contesting 'genocide' in jurisprudence
    8. Silence, empathy, and the potentialities of jurisprudence.

  • Author

    Payam Akhavan, McGill University, Montréal
    Payam Akhavan is Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He was the first Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor's Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at The Hague (1994–2000) and has served with the United Nations in Cambodia, East Timor and Guatemala. He is also the author of the Report on the Work of the Office of the Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2005), has served as Chairman of the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide (2007) and is Co-Producer of the documentary film 'Genos.Cide: The Great Challenge' (2009).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.