International Crime, Justice and the Promise of Community

Dr Nesam Mcmillan1
University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

From a criminological perspective, the internationalisation of crime and justice is a significant historical development. International crime and international criminal justice are distinguished from their national counterparts, framed as new categories of crime and justice. International crimes are popularly conceptualised as crimes against humanity, crimes against ‘us’ all, whilst international justice is represented as an enterprise undertaken on behalf of an international community. Embedded in ideas and practices of internationalised crime and justice are promises of global interconnectedness: that certain suffering matters and is the concern of ‘us’ all.

This paper charts and interrogates the nature and effects of the internationalisation of crime and justice. First, it discusses how (on what grounds) certain crimes and forms of justice are figured as distinctly ‘international’. I draw on the fields of international law, socio-legal studies, cultural geography, anthropology, global criminology and post-colonial theory to trace the shifts in scale, subjectivity and meaning that this entails. Second, the paper explores the subjective and relational effects of dominant approaches to international crime and justice – by asking what ways they make it possible to relate and respond to the injustice and injury experienced by others? Ultimately, it argues that dominant approaches to international crime and justice, and their contemporary valorisation, problematically function to separate these notions from life as it is lived.


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