Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Gordon on Atrocity Speech Law @ProfGSGordon

Gregory S. Gordon, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, has published Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition -- Introduction in Gregory S. Gordon, Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Hate speech is widely considered a precondition for mass atrocity and since World War II a large body of case law has interpreted the key offenses criminalizing such discourse: (1) incitement to genocide and (2) persecution as a crime against humanity. But the law has developed in a fragmented and ineffective manner. Surprisingly, though, no single volume has furnished a comprehensive analysis of the entire jurisprudential output and the relation of each of its parts to one another and to the whole. This book fills the gap in the scholarly literature and provides needed perspective for courts, government officials and scholars. Part 1, “Foundation,” explores the historical relationship between speech and atrocity and the foundations of the current legal framework. Part 2, “Fragmentation,” details the discrepancies and deficiencies within that framework. Part 3, “Fruition,” proposes fixes for the individual speech offenses and then suggests a more comprehensive solution: a “Unified Liability Theory,” pursuant to which there would be four criminal modalities placed in one statutory provision and applying to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes: (1) incitement (applying to speech seeking but not resulting in commission of atrocities); (2) speech abetting (covering non-catalytic speech synchronous with commission of atrocities); instigation (applying to speech seeking commission, and resulting in, atrocities); and ordering (criminalizing commands to commit atrocity within a superior-subordinate relationship). Apart from the issue of fragmentation, experts have failed to find an accurate designation for this body of law. “International Incitement Law” or “International Hate Speech Law,” two of the typical labels, do not capture the law’s breadth or its proper relationship to mass violence. So with a more holistic and accurate approach in mind, this book proposes a new name for the overall body of international rules and jurisprudence: “atrocity speech law.”

Download the introduction from SSRN at the link.

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