Crimes against humanity : "the accumulated evil of the whole"
This thesis is a study of international 'core crimes', namely, crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against peace. The aim of this work is to demonstrate that all these crimes share striking similarities, not only in respect of their qualifying elements, but also as regards the legal regime of individual responsibility attached to them. While focusing on these similar features, this thesis will highlight the defects of the rules applicable to genocide, war crimes and crimes against peace respectively, defects which might ultimately impede effective punishment of these particular crimes. In order to avoid such a risk, it is here submitted that, in fact, all these crimes should be considered as crimes against humanity. Such a re-qualification, it is argued, would indeed have the advantage of securing appropriate prosecution for these most heinous crimes thanks to the wider scope of application of the concept of 'crimes against humanity'. The purpose of this work is certainly not to erase the existence of different international crimes from the legal sphere, as it does not presuppose that the definitions of international crimes are malleable, not that the notion of 'crimes against humanity' is a stretchable one. Rather, it is merely to re-qualify the 'core crimes' against international law as 'crimes against humanity', notion which would then encompass a wider array of offences, all of which overlap considerably. This proposal is based on the assumption that prosecutions for international crimes have remained much too rare, and that, accordingly change and improvement are necessary. The re-qualification of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against peace as crimes against humanity could be a first step towards a better respect of international legal norms.