Law Professor’s Book Honored by International Law Organizations

Lexington, VA • Thursday, April 09, 2009

The American Society of International Law (ASIL) has selected Washington and Lee Law Professor Mark Drumbl's book Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2007) as first runner-up (honorable mention) for its 2009 Certificate of Merit for Creative Scholarship.  This prize is among the most prestigious publishing awards globally in the field of international law.  

In his book, the first major study of its kind, Drumbl rethinks how perpetrators of atrocity crimes should be punished.  After reviewing the sentencing practices of courts and tribunals that condemn genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, he concludes that these practices fall short of the goals that international criminal law ascribes to punishment, in particular retribution and deterrence. This raises the question whether international prosecutorial and correctional preferences are as effective as hoped. In response, Drumbl proposes a variety of reforms to international tribunals.

Already honored with the 2007 Book of the Year award from the International Association of Criminal Law, Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law  continues to receive widespread acclaim.  To date, 19 academic journals, newspapers, or periodicals have published formal reviews of the book, including the very top journals in the field.  This is a significant number for an academic book.  The book has been reviewed not only in the U.S., but also in the U.K., Australia, China, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. Many of these book reviews are enthusiastic and laudatory, while also lengthily engaging with the arguments Drumbl advances. 

For example, Justice Richard Goldstone of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the first Chief Prosecutor of the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals and of the faculty at Harvard Law School, lauded Drumbl's book as "essential reading for all interested in atrocity crimes, whether at the domestic or international level."  The Journal of International Criminal Justice, published by Oxford University Press, praised Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law for filling research gaps "in an admirably courageous and an indisputably successful manner."  The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, published by Northwestern University, concluded that "Unlike many academics, journalists, or social scientists who either discover, report, or analyze mass international atrocities, Drumbl has the courage and intellectual muster to include suggestions and proposals for reform … [t]his book should be a mandatory read for any student of international criminal law and theory, and deserves the praise and respect it has already earned among academics and legal practitioners." Other examples of substantive reviews include those in the Michigan Law Review, the Leiden Journal of International law, the American Journal of International Law, and the Buffalo Law Review

Atrocity, Punishment and International Law is available through booksellers, including electronically from and

A widely recognized expert in international law, Drumbl brings years of on the ground experience working in international criminal tribunals to his analysis.  Drumbl has several lectures on the themes raised in the book scheduled for this summer, including at the International Institute for Criminal Sciences in Italy, at the University of Helsinki, and in Buenos Aires;  in the Fall, he will present workshops at Cornell and Yale. In January 2009, Drumbl delivered the Law, Justice, and Society honorific lecture at Oxford University.  He also is participating as an expert commentator on the drafting of an international treaty on crimes against humanity.

Mark A. Drumbl is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he also serves as Director of the University's Transnational Law Institute. Drumbl has   held visiting appointments on the law faculties of Oxford University, the University of Paris, Trinity College-Dublin, and the University of Western Ontario, among others.  This year he was appointed to the Advisory Board of the International Bar Association's War Crimes Committee.  His recent commentary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch explores the 2008 torture conviction and 97 year sentence of Charles Taylor Jr. and what his trial teaches about the importance of international law.

     Email This Page