[Frederic Mégret is an Associate Professor of Law and the Canada Research Chair on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, at McGill University]
Monika Ambrus offers a compelling treatment of the question of what constitutes genocide and persecution as a crime against humanity relying on the human rights law of discrimination to reinforce the case that both protected groups and the definition of who belongs to them should be seen as subjective questions, focusing on the state of mind of the perpetrator, rather than objective as objective issues. In that, she suggests that it is time to move beyond international criminal courts’ constant indecision between an objective and a subjective approach, and to more resolutely move towards the latter. I could not agree more. I note also that in using international human rights law to make a larger point about international criminal law (and, one might hope, vice versa) she does a praiseworthy job of breaking barriers between sister disciplines that have no reason of standing wholly apart.
In this short reaction, I will start not from the case law as Ambrus does, but from some of the underlying ambiguities of the concepts of groups, and how these were bound to create problems for the Law that end up telling us something about the enterprise of international criminal justice. In that respect, I want to help contextualize Ambrus’s arguments in some of the challenges of post-modernizing an international legal project whose structures often remain embedded in 19th