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International Law and the Rejection of the Amnesty Exception Argument

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines crimes against humanity as an offence under international law (or as part of delicti jus gentium) and as a jus cogens crime. It demonstrates that the characterisation of crimes against humanity as both an international crime and a peremptory norm produces one fundamental consequence: their prohibition does not permit any form of derogation, thereby constituting a profound limitation to the State’s sovereign power to grant amnesty. On the basis of recent developments in international law and practice, it is argued that amnesty for crimes against humanity is legally invalid under international law. Two forms of derogation are fundamental as far as States’ obligations in respect of the most serious crimes under international law are concerned: derogation in time of public emergency and derogation under Article 6 (5) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August, 1949.

Keywords: amnesty exception argument; Geneva Convention; humanity; international law; Rome Statute; sovereignty



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