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Posted on April 13th, 2014, by

the international criminal court and international humanitarian law did not exist for a long time. In stark contrast, the contemporary international criminal court and international humanitarian law are relatively new. At any rate, they have been in the full action since the early 1990s but they have already proved to be highly efficient. In fact, the first efforts to establish the international humanitarian law and the international criminal court were undertaken shortly after World War II. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials were the first trials in terms of the international criminal court and international humanitarian law. The international community, in face of winners of World War II, arrived to the point, when leaders of countries and top executors had to undergo the criminal prosecution for the crime they had committed while they were in power. For instance, leaders of the Nazi Germany and Japan were responsible for the policy of genocide conducted on the occupied territories as well as for numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity and tortures. However, the national jurisdiction was insufficient to prosecute leaders of Germany and its allies. In such a way, they were not accountable for the crimes they had committed. Hence, the urgent need in the international criminal court and international humanitarian law became obvious to make all individuals accountable for crimes they had committed. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials were conducted under unique, special conditions and they were the legal prosecution of international criminals, who were perceived by the world community as individuals who were accountable and responsible for crimes of the regimes that conducted international aggression during World War II and committed war crimes and other offenses which should be prosecuted at the international level. As the national justice system would be unable to prosecute them because its jurisdiction did not spread on international crimes committed by leaders of Germany, Japan and their allies.

The Geneva Convention of 1949 laid the legal ground for the international criminal court and international humanitarian law to punish grave breaches of international humanitarian law through national courts. In fact, the Geneva Convention was the first step toward the universal accountability of all individuals within the frame of the international criminal court and international humanitarian law. The Geneva Convention identified actions as well as in-action that may be defined as international crimes and, more specifically, the Geneva Convention focused on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as key crimes, which should be prevented and prosecuted at the international level.

However, the system did not work because of the Cold War. To put it more precisely, the Geneva Convention had a solid and prospective legal ground but the confrontation between the US and the USSR as two superpowers followed by the Cold War made the articles of the Geneva Convention impossible to apply because superpowers acted according to their needs and wishes instead of international norms set by the Convention. Therefore, the Geneva Convention had good intentions but they could not be implemented in the context of the Cold War. As a result, the individual accountability in the time of the Cold War was irrelevant that gave rise to many dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, where the violation of human rights was a norm, while war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and tortures also occurred regularly.

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