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Crimes against Humanity in International Law

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the content, meaning and limits of crimes against humanity as they have evolved since their first legal elaboration by the Nuremberg Tribunal. The interest in the chapter is twofold: first, to expose the gravity or seriousness of acts of crime against humanity in order to understand the reasons of its international criminalization and secondly, to determine the status of crimes against humanity as a core crime under international law. For this purpose, two phases in the evolution of the concept of crimes against humanity shall be addressed: firstly, the period before World War II characterised by the emergence of the concept in the form of the ‘laws’ or ‘principles of humanity’; secondly, the period stretching from the end of World War II till the adoption of the Rome Statute, which witnessed the first legal qualification of crimes against humanity as a core crime under international law.

Keywords: humanity; international law; Nuremberg Tribunal; Rome Statute; World War II

10.1163/ej.9789004162310.i-252.18
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