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12 Refugee Jurisprudence, Crimes against Humanity, and Customary International Law

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the body of law created under Article 1(F) of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees as a source of international law. It discusses the definition of crimes against humanity as developed in the body of municipal immigration law interpreting Article 1(F). It then identifies an area of law that appears to have been ignored by judges, policy-makers, and publicists in discerning the customary international law definition of crimes against humanity, and to make some preliminary observations concerning content of that jurisprudence. In a brief and selective reading of published exclusion cases from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and the United States, concerning crimes against humanity, two general areas of jurisprudence stand out: 1) liability based upon membership in an organization known to have committed crimes against humanity; and 2) defenses, like duress, that exculpate an individual otherwise responsible for a crime against humanity.

Keywords: crimes against humanity; customary international law; duress; immigration law; refugee jurisprudence; United Nations Convention



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