Is a category of state crimes theoretically sound and important?
This chapter defends the view that it is, based on some of John Gardner’s key theoretical commitments about the possibility of state agency and wrongdoing. The central contention is that the category of state crimes is useful as a means of singling out those condemnable state wrongdoings that warrant punishment. Other existing normative categories such as state injustices and violations of human rights are not sufficiently discerning to pick out this important subset of state wrongs. The category also helps focus inquiries about the justification of the more deliberately burdensome responses that may be imposed on states—be it internationally or domestically, institutionally or popularly—for their morally graver legal wrongs. Punishment of states for such wrongs must be considered, I argue, as they may be justified in terms of their deterrence effect, but also as symbolically marking these wrongs and, to a lesser (and more questionable) extent, as giving states their just desert.
Tanguay-Renaud, François, "State Crimes" (2022). All Papers. 341.