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The dynamic but complex relationship between international penal law and international humanitarian law

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Chapter Summary

The beginnings of modern international humanitarian law are found in the midnineteenth century. The first international humanitarian law treaties had no provisions concerning their implementation. When discussion of international humanitarian law resumed following the Second World War, the state of mind of those taking part had changed radically owing to the horrors committed during that war. The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals were nevertheless ad hoc bodies and firmly anchored in the context of the Second World War. To have a truly preventive effect, the punishment of war criminals should be broadly perceived first as impartial and independent of political pressures; second as part of a coherent system of international sanctions; and third as in accordance with a general sense of justice. Developing the international penal justice system and combating impunity certainly have a positive effect on the development of international humanitarian law.

Keywords: international humanitarian law; international penal justice; Second World War; Tokyo tribunals



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