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War Crimes and Realpolitik: International Justice from World War I to the 21st Century

Jackson Nyamuya Maogoto
War Crimes and Realpolitik: International Justice from World War I to the 21st Century
ISBN: 978-1-58826-276-9
ISBN: 978-1-58826-252-3
$24.00 $10.00
2004/267 pages/LC: 2003023330

"A dynamic and critical discussion of the relationship between war crimes and the realities of international politics.... This well-written work is an important contribution to the subject matter. Highly recommended."—Choice

"Maogoto's survey of the historical tensions between the demands of justice and the interests of political actors is a salutary injection of principled realism into a discourse otherwise overcome by often clichéd idealism and insipid historicism."—J. Peter Pham, Human Rights and Human Welfare

"Offering a welcome new perspective, Maogoto highlights the interplay between politics and law in the international arena."—Kurt Mills, James Madison University

"A comprehensive overview of states' attempts to prosecute international war crimes from World War I to the present, with a focus on the tension between justice and expedience.... well written and well researched."—Bruce Cronin, University of Wisconsin


From the very early stages in the development of international law, the nature of the state-centric international system has dictated that law play second fiddle to the hard realities of power politics. War Crimes and Realpolitik explores the evolution and operation of the international criminal justice system, highlighting the influences of politics.

Maogoto takes the reader behind the scenes of the conflict between justice and realpolitik. Showing how states, in furthering their political agendas, sometimes hinder the enforceability of international criminal law, he delineates the state interests that often control international legal norms and institutions and even manipulate public perceptions. Ranging from the period just after World War I to the recent establishment of the International Criminal Court, he provides a thorough exposition of the politics and processes of international penal institutions in the state-driven international system.


Jackson Nyamuya Maogoto (1975-2020) was senior lecturer in international law at the University of Manchester.


  • Toward the Modern International Penal Process.
  • A False Dawn: The Failure to Enforce International Justice After World War I.
  • A New Dawn: The Birth of the Modern International Penal Process.
  • The Cold War: International Justice in the Shadow of Realpolitik.
  • Crisis in the Balkans: Raising the Nuremberg Precedent.
  • Rwanda: Portrait of a Reluctant International Community.
  • The International Criminal Court: Challenges and Concessions to the State.
  • International Justice: Retrospect and Prospect.

A related title: War Crimes: Confronting Atrocity in the Modern World by David Chuter.