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International Crimes: Law and Practice: Volume II: Crimes Against Humanity

Guénaël Mettraux

Abstract

The law of international crimes has become increasingly dense over the years, which has rendered the law of international crimes more sophisticated and more complex. This is perhaps most apparent in relation to the law of crimes against humanity. From a single paragraph in Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, the law of crimes against humanity has grown into dozens of interacting definitional elements and an extensive body of practice. As part of this development, crimes against humanity have established their own normative identity with a distinctive chapeau or contextual element and a broad range of underlying offences, including discrimination-based crimes, penal translations of what are in effect serious human rights violations, a series of gender-based crimes and a residual offence of ‘other inhuman acts’. The combined effect of a sophisticated body of criminal law, international obligations directed at ensuring accountability and a multiplication of judicial venues competent to adjudicate upon such crimes, carries with it the hope that crimes against humanity could become an effective enforcer of international justice. However, resistance to full and universal accountability for such crimes is still a powerful political reality that undermines the possibility of justice and the institutions that are devoted to it. The present volume hopes to contribute to achieving that goal as the law of crimes against humanity is as important and relevant today as it was when first enforced. As it stands today, that law is a testimony to the efforts of many who have strived to ensure that atrocities should not remain unpunished.

Bibliographic Information

Guénaël Mettraux, author


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