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Introduction: The Birth Of International Criminal Justice

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Chapter Summary

In the aftermath of the First World War steps were taken towards the establishment of an international court to try individuals for criminal acts contrary to international law. Two particular doctrines, however, the immunity of heads of State and of officials for acts of State, stood in the way of the realization of international penal responsibility for individuals. These two concepts had, for centuries, provided "a legal cover for a series of acts undertaken by one State against another, or by a Government against its own citizens within the boundaries of a State". During the Second World War, the call for criminal trials of suspected war criminals featured prominently in the statements made by governments and powerful statesmen denouncing Nazi conduct.

Keywords: criminal trials; international criminal justice; international law; international penal responsibility



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