War Crimes Agreement
December 20th, 2020
December 20th, 2020
What constitutes a war crime may vary depending on whether an armed conflict is international or not. Thus, Article 8 of the Rome Statute classifies war crimes as follows: war crimes are defined in the statute establishing the International Criminal Court, which understands that the trial of Peter von Hagenbach by an ad hoc tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire in 1474 was the first “international” trial for war crimes and the responsibility of the command.   He was convicted and beheaded for crimes “which he considered a knight obliged to prevent,” even though he had argued that he “obeyed only orders.” The concept of war crimes is difficult to define precisely and its use has continued to evolve, especially since the end of the First World War. The first systematic attempt to define a wide range of war crimes was the instruction for the U.S. Military Government on the ground – also known as the “Dear Code” according to its lead author, Francis Lieber – edited by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War and distributed to Union military in 1863. For example, the Lieber Code stated that “forcing the subjects of the enemy in the service of the victorious government was a serious violation of martial law” and prohibited “voluntary violence against people in the invaded country”, including rape, mutilation and murder, all of which led to the death penalty. More recently, definitions of war crimes have been codified in international statutes, such as the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal and war crimes tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which will be used in international war crimes tribunals. Contrary to previous definitions, modern definitions are broader and criminalize certain behaviours committed by both civilians and military personnel. War crimes are important in international humanitarian law  because it is a territory where international tribunals such as the Nuremberg trials and the Tokyo trials have been convened. The most recent examples are the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established by the UN Security Council in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. The next major attempt to prosecute war criminals took place in Europe and Asia after the Second World War. During the war, the Allies had carried out atrocities committed by adolf Hitler`s Nazi regime and announced their intention to punish those who had committed war crimes.
The 1943 Moscow Declaration, published by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, and the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, published by the United States, Great Britain and China (and later respected by the Soviet Union), dealt with the issue of the sanction of war crimes committed by the German and Japanese governments. The following offences are not subject to a legal restriction, regardless of the date of their commission: from the outset, war crimes trials were considered by critics only as “victory justice”, because only people from losing countries were prosecuted and because the accused were charged with acts that would not have been punishable at the time of the commission. In support of the trials, the Nuremberg court cited the Kellogg Briand Pact (1928), which formally banned war and made the dissolution of war a crime for which individuals could be prosecuted.