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Title: "Crimes against peace" and international law
Author: Sellars, Kirsten
ISNI:       0000 0004 1750 2402
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2009
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The Nuremberg Judgment on the leaders of Nazi Germany proclaimed ‘crimes against peace’ – the planning and waging of aggressive wars – to be ‘the supreme international crime’.  This charge was premised on two innovative ideas: that aggressive war was a crime, and that individuals could be held responsible for it. Although heralded as an historic milestone at the time, it turned out to be a transient legal anomaly.  At the Nuremberg Tribunal, the number of acquittals, coupled with the relative leniency of the sentences, indicated the judges’ unease about convicting on the basis of ‘crimes against peace’.  At the Tokyo Tribunal, some judges questioned the validity of the charge and filed dissents.  Legal observers, meanwhile, were outspoken in their criticisms, and argued that it was an ex post facto enactment, selectively applied. Aside from retroactivity and selectivity, the main difficulty arose from the internal contradictions within the charge itself, which rendered it unsustainable as a component of international law.  On jurisdiction, it enhanced the sovereignty of nations by protecting them against aggression, while simultaneously undermining sovereignty by subjecting leaders to international law.  On enforcement, while judicialising punishment after the event, it simultaneously de-legitimised both aggression and attempts to prevent it.  These weaknesses were confirmed by the failure of ‘crimes against peace’ to become part of customary international law. If the Rome Statute is amended to include ‘crime of aggression’ within the International Criminal Court’s operative remit, these latter problems are likely to occur.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: War (International law) ; Crimes against peace ; Aggression (International law)