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The Dynamics of International Criminal Tribunals

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

Waging war appears to be a constant feature of human behaviour. Until World War II, violations of the Law of War were generally punishable before national tribunals; this practice, however, proved unsatisfactory. The Nuremberg and Tokyo International War Crimes Tribunals appeared as the first successful attempts to delocalise proceedings related thereto, bearing in mind the absolute primacy of inflicting exemplary punishment on the guilty. The International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda upheld an extended definition of punishable crimes under Conventional and/or Customary Law, while instituting more guarantees of fairness, i.e.: judges chosen from outside the warring parties, rejection of the death penalty, awarding compensation to victims and ensuring the protection of witnesses. Despite the application of ex posto facto law, it is worth recalling that human rights protection is clearly identified as an essential focus of the later ad hoc tribunals. However, only the institution of a permanent international criminal tribunal seems conductive to setting the seal on the determination of the international community to put in place an effective deterrent to resorting to war as a means of settling inter-societal disputes.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Human Rights Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva

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/content/journals/10.1163/15718109820295534
1998-02-01
2016-12-04

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