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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

War Crimes: Home

War Crimes - A Brief Timeline

1864 - 1970's: Geneva Conventions

Conventions address treatment of neutral parties in war (e.g. medics, organizations, etc.), as well as refugees, wounded and prisoners of war. The full text of the rules and protocols are available on the International Committee of the Red Cross website.

1899 and 1907: Hague Conventions

International treaties that established laws regarding interstate land warfare.

1941: Atlantic Charter of 1941

Created by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, the Atlantic Charter formed the basis of the UN Charter. The Charter covered:

  • Rights of self-determination, of all people to live in freedom from fear and want,
  • Freedom of the seas,

Belief that all nations must abandon the use of force and work collectively in the fields of economics and security.

1945: Charter of the Military Tribunal / International Military Tribunal Statute

  • Established the military tribunals at Nuremberg & formed the basis of the military tribunals in Tokyo. The Nuremberg principles were incorporated into the UN Charter. 
  • Nuremberg Trial Transcripts, evidence files, photos & documents can be found here and here
  • The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo) charter is found here. Tokyo Trial transcripts are found here.

Charges at both tribunals included:

  • Crimes against Peace
  • War Crimes

Crimes against Humanity

1946: UN Charter

Articles 92-96 of the Charter Includes the creation of the International Court of Justice (The Hague, the Netherlands).

1953: European Court of Human Rights (Human Rights Building - Strasbourg, France) :

Adjudicates breaches of civil and political rights.  

1990’s:  UN Ad Hoc Criminal Court Tribunals:

Tribunals of Rwandan genocide and Yugoslavian war crimes in the Balkans during the 1980's conflict. 

2002: Rome Statutes: (Peace Palace - The Hague, The Netherlands)

The Rome Statutes established the International Criminal Court, which is charged with the prosecution of Individual War Criminals (Leaders) for the crimes of:

  • Genocide
  • Crimes Against Humanity
  • War Crimes
  • Crime of Aggression (2010 Kampala Conference – outlines the definition)

2002: Establishment of Eurojust - The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation

Mass Atrocity Laws and Universal Jurisdiction:

Individual countries have statutes regarding crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression allowing for prosecution of foreign individuals upon entering those countries.


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