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Defining International Crimes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores three categories, the crime of genocide and against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, of international crimes from the perspective of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The jurisprudence of the tribunals shows that the mental element of "specific intent" being the criterion distinguishing genocide from all other international crimes. Although manslaughter is one of the five described core acts in the definition of genocide and is clearly defined, the other four acts create potential defenses. With respect to crimes against humanity, customary international law does require that the individual criminal act (such as rape or murder) be committed within a wider context of specified circumstances. This condition is called the 'context element'.

Keywords: context element; genocide; ICTY; international crimes; International Criminal Court (ICC); International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); manslaughter; mental element



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