History of efforts to codify crimes against humanity: From the charter of Nuremberg to the statute of Rome

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The nuremberg charter The modern usage of the words “crimes against humanity” dates from the Nuremberg Charter, article 6(c) of which reads as follows: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated. I doubt very much that the drafters of the Nuremberg Charter who gathered in London from June 26 to August 8, 1945 saw themselves as engaged in a codification exercise. In retrospect, the characterization is perhaps not inappropriate, although the term “crimes against humanity,” which provided a catchy title in the Charter to go along with “crime against peace” and “war crimes,” did not make an appearance in the drafting until the very last moment. Until then, the talk had been of “atrocities,” “persecutions,” and sometimes “deportations” (it apparently being understood that these were for the purpose of slave labor). Probably the closest example of usage hinting at what would be “codified” in London was in the declaration of May 28, 1915 by the Governments of France, Great Britain, and Russia concerning the massacres of the Armenian population in Turkey, killings to which the term “genocide” has also since been applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationForging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511921124
ISBN (Print)9780521116480
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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