In 1946, the judges at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared 'crimes against peace' - the planning, initiation or waging of aggressive wars - to be 'the supreme international crime'. At the time, the prosecuting powers heralded the charge as being a legal milestone, but it later proved to be an anomaly arising from the unique circumstances of the post-war period. This study traces the idea of criminalising aggression, from its origins after the First World War, through its high-water mark at the post-war tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, to its abandonment during the Cold War. Today, a similar charge - the 'crime of aggression' - is being mooted at the International Criminal Court, so the ideas and debates that shaped the original charge of 'crimes against peace' assume new significance and offer valuable insights to lawyers, policy-makers and scholars engaged in international law and international relations.
The issue of international crimes is highly topical in Asia, with still-resonant claims against the Japanese for war crimes, and deep schisms resulting from crimes in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and East Timor. Over the years, the region has hosted a succession of tribunals, from those held in Manila, Singapore and Tokyo after the Asia-Pacific War to those currently running in Dhaka and Phnom Penh. This book draws on extensive new research and offers the first comprehensive legal appraisal of the Asian trials. As well as the famous tribunals, it also considers lesser-known examples, such as the Dutch and Soviet trials of the Japanese, the Cambodian trial of the Khmer Rouge, and the Indonesian trials of their own military personnel. It focuses on their approach to the elements of international crimes, and their contribution to general theories of liability. In the process, this book challenges some orthodoxies about the development of international criminal law.
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