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Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are purposefully committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...

war
or
peace upStatue of Eirene, goddess of peace in ancient Greek religion, with her son Pluto. Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility Hostility is seen as form of emotionally charged aggressive behavior. In ...

peace
. They differ from
war crimes A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
because they are not isolated acts committed by individual soldiers but are acts committed in furtherance of a state or organizational policy. The first prosecution for crimes against humanity took place at the
Nuremberg trials#REDIRECT Nuremberg trials#REDIRECT Nuremberg trials {{redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation{{R from move ...
{{redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation{{R from move ...
. Initially being considered for legal use, widely in International Law, following the
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...

Holocaust
a global standard of human rights was articulated in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six p ...
(1948). Political groups or states that violate or incite violation of human rights norms, as found in the Declaration, are an expression of the political pathologies associated with crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity have since been prosecuted by other international courts (for example, the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was a body of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, secu ...
, the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * International (Kevin Michael album), ''International'' (Kevin Michael album), 2011 * International (New Order album), '' ...
and the
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizatio ...

International Criminal Court
) as well as in domestic prosecutions. The law of crimes against humanity has primarily developed through the evolution of
customary international law Customary international law is an aspect of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes ...
. Crimes against humanity are not codified in an international convention, although there is currently an international effort to establish such a treaty, led by the
Crimes Against Humanity Initiative The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative is a rule of law research and advocacy project of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute. Started in 2008 by Professor Leila Nadya Sadat, the Initiative has as its goals the study of the need for a compr ...
. Unlike
war crime A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
s, crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or war. They are not isolated or sporadic events but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'' authority.
War crime A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
s,
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...

murder
,
massacre A massacre is the killing of multiple individuals and is usually considered to be morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery ...

massacre
s,
dehumanization upright=1.2, link=Warsaw Ghetto boy, In his report on the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Jürgen Stroop described Jews resisting deportation to Extermination camp, death camps as "bandits". Dehumanization is the denial of full hum ...
,
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
,
ethnic cleansing Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic, racial, and religious groups from a given area, with the intent of making a region ethnically homogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the Science, science ...
,
deportation Deportation is the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective i ...
s,
unethical human experimentation Unethical human experimentation is human experimentation Human subject research is systematic, scientific investigation that can be either interventional (a "trial") or observational (no "test article") and involves human beings as research subjec ...
,
extrajudicial punishment Extrajudicial punishment is punishment for an alleged crime or offense carried out without legal process or supervision from a court or tribunal through a legal proceeding. Politically motivated Extrajudicial punishment is often a feature of po ...
s including
summary execution A summary execution is an execution Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
s, use of
weapons of mass destruction A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a nuclear, radiological File:Radioactive.svg, upThe international symbol for types and levels of ionizing radiation (radioactivity) that are unsafe for Radiation shield, unshielded humans. Radiation, ...
,
state terrorism State terrorism refers to acts of terrorism Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in the context of war ...
or state sponsoring of terrorism,
death squad A death squad is an armed group whose primary activity is carrying out extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances as part of political repression, genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as ...
s,
kidnapping In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
s and
forced disappearance An enforced disappearance (or forced disappearance) is the secret abduction or imprisonment of a person by a State (polity), state or political organization, or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or pol ...
s, use of child soldiers,
unjust imprisonment
unjust imprisonment
,
enslavement Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
,
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

torture
,
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

rape
,
political repression Political repression is the act of a state entity controlling a citizenry by force for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing the citizenry's ability to take part in the political life of a society ...
,
racial discrimination Racial discrimination is any discrimination Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. People may be discrim ...
,
religious persecution Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or their lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within societies to alienate or r ...
and other
human rights abuses Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...
may reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.


Term origins

The term "crimes against humanity" is potentially
ambiguous Ambiguity is a type of meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic sit ...
because of the ambiguity of the word "humanity", which can mean
humankind Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
(all human beings collectively) or the value of humanness. The history of the term shows that the latter sense is intended.


Abolition of the slave trade

There were several bilateral treaties in 1814 that foreshadowed the multilateral treaty of
Final Act of the Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was the most important international diplomatic conference in European history, reconstituting the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of amba ...
(1815) that used wording expressing condemnation of the
slave trade Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...

slave trade
using moral language. For example, the
Treaty of Paris (1814) The Treaty of Paris, signed on 30 May 1814, ended the war between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan Fra ...
between Britain and France included the wording "principles of natural justice"; and the British and United States plenipotentiaries stated in the Treaty of Ghent (1814) that the slave trade violated the "principles of humanity and justice". The multilateral ''Declaration of the Powers, on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, of 8 February 1815'' (which also formed Section XV of the
Final Act of the Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was the most important international diplomatic conference in European history, reconstituting the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I. It was a meeting of amba ...
of the same year) included in its first sentence the concept of the "principles of humanity and universal morality" as justification for ending a trade that was "odious in its continuance". The Republican Party Platform for the 1856 election for President of the United States stated:


First use

The Republican Platform for the 1860 election for President of the United States used the phrase in its ninth article: The term "crimes against humanity" was used by
George Washington Williams George Washington Williams (October 16, 1849 – August 2, 1891) was an American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fough ...
, an American minister, politician and historian, in a letter he wrote to the
United States Secretary of State The United States secretary of state is an officer of the United States who implements foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and intern ...
describing the atrocities committed by
Leopold II of Belgium Leopold II (french: Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor; 9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and, through his own efforts, the owner and absolute ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908. ...

Leopold II of Belgium
's administration in the
Congo Free State ''(Work and Progress) , national_anthem = Vers l'avenir ''Vers l'avenir'' (, "Towards the future"), less commonly known by its Dutch language, Dutch title ''Naar wijd en zijd'', is a Belgium, Belgian nationalist song which was also the ...
in 1890. This was an early but not, as is often claimed, the first use of the term in its modern sense in the English language. In his first annual message in December 1889, U.S. President Harrison spoke about the slave trade in Africa as a “crime against humanity". Already in 1883,
George Washington Williams George Washington Williams (October 16, 1849 – August 2, 1891) was an American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fough ...
used the same term in his reflections about slavery in the United States. In treaty law, the term originated in the Second Hague Convention of 1899 preamble and was expanded in the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 preamble and their respective regulations, which were concerned with the codification of new rules of
international humanitarian law #REDIRECT International humanitarian law International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war ('' jus in bello''). It is a branch of international law International l ...
. The preamble of the two Conventions referenced the "laws of humanity" as an expression of underlying inarticulated humanistic values. The term is part of what is known as the
Martens Clause The Martens Clause ( pronounced ) was introduced into the preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention II – Laws and Customs of War on Land. __NOTOC__ The clause took its name from a declaration read by Friedrich Martens, the delegate of Russia at ...
. On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly and for the first time ever charging another government of committing "a crime against humanity". An excerpt from this joint statement reads: At the conclusion of the war, an international war crimes commission recommended the creation of a
tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington Samuel Phillips Huntington (April 18, 1927 – December 24, 2008) was an American political scientist, adviser and academic. He spent ...

tribunal
to try "violations of the laws of humanity". However, the US representative objected to references to "law of humanity" as being imprecise and insufficiently developed at that time and the concept was not pursued. Nonetheless, a UN report in 1948 referred to the usage of the term "crimes against humanity" in regard to the Armenian massacres as a precedent to the Nüremberg and Tokyo Charters. On May 15, 1948, the
Economic and Social Council
Economic and Social Council
presented a 384-pages report prepared by the
United Nations War Crimes Commission The United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) initially called the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes, was a commission of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization ...
(UNWCC), set up in London (October 1943) to collect and collate information on war crimes and war criminals. The report was in compliance to the request by the UN Secretary-General to make arrangements for "the collection and publication of information concerning human rights arising from trials of war criminals, quislings and traitors, and in particular from the
Nürnberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...
and Tokyo Trials." The report had been prepared by members of the Legal Staff of the commission. The report is highly topical in regard to the Armenian Genocide, not only because it uses the 1915 events as a historic example, but also as a precedent to the Articles 6 (c) and 5 (c) of the
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...
and
Tokyo Charter The International Military Tribunal for the Far East Charter (IMTFE Charter), also known as the Tokyo Charter, was the decree issued by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Allies of World War II, Allied-Occupat ...
s, and thereby as a precursor to the then newly adopted UN
Genocide Convention The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG), or Genocide Convention, is an International Agreement, international treaty that criminalizes genocide and obligates state parties to enforce its prohibition. It w ...
, differentiating between war crimes and crimes against humanity. By refereeing to the information collected during WWI and put forward by the 1919
Commission of Responsibilities The Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties was a commission established at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Its role was to examine the background of the First World War World War I or ...
, the report entitled "Information Concerning Human Rights Arising from Trials of War Criminals" used the Armenian case as a vivid example of committed crimes by a state against its own citizens. The report also noted that while the Paris Peace Treaties with Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, did not include any reference to "laws of humanity", instead basing the charges on violations of "
laws and customs of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war define sovereignty and nationhood, states and territories, occupa ...
", The Sèvres Peace Treaty with Turkey did so. In addition to the Articles 226–228, concerning customs of war (corresponding to Articles 228–230 of the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
), the Sèvres Treaty also contained an additional Article 230, obviously in compliance with the Allied ultimatum of May 24, 1915 in regard to committed "crimes against humanity and civilization".


Nuremberg trials

After the Second World War, the
London Charter of the International Military Tribunal The Charter of the International Military Tribunal – Annex to the Agreement for the prosecution and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis (usually referred to as the Nuremberg Charter or London Charter) was the decree issued ...
set down the laws and procedures by which the Nuremberg trials were to be conducted. The drafters of this document were faced with the problem of how to respond to
the Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify wi ...
and the grave crimes committed by the
Nazi regime Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was t ...
. A traditional understanding of war crimes gave no provision for crimes committed by a power on its own citizens. Therefore, Article 6 of the Charter was drafted to include not only traditional war crimes and
crimes against peace A crime against peace, in international law, is "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of War of aggression, wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan o ...
, but also ''crimes against humanity'', defined as Under this definition, crimes against humanity could be punished only insofar as they could be connected somehow to war crimes or crimes against peace. The jurisdictional limitation was explained by the American chief representative to the London Conference, Robert H. Jackson, who pointed out that it "has been a general principle from time immemorial that the internal affairs of another government are not ordinarily our business". Thus, "it is justifiable that we interfere or attempt to bring retribution to individuals or to states only because the concentration camps and the deportations were in pursuance of a common plan or enterprise of making an unjust war". The judgement of the first Nuremberg trial found that "the policy of persecution, repression and murder of civilians" and persecution of Jews within Germany before the outbreak of war in 1939 were not crimes against humanity, because as "revolting and horrible as many of these crimes were, it has not been satisfactorily proved that they were done in execution of, or in connection with," war crimes or crimes against peace. The
subsequent Nuremberg trials The Subsequent Nuremberg trials were a series of 12 military tribunal Military justice (or military law) is the body of laws and procedures governing members of the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is ...
were conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 which included a revised definition of crimes against humanity with a wider scope.


Tokyo Trial

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo Trial, was convened to
try Try or TRY may refer to: Music Albums * ''Try!'', an album by the John Mayer Trio * Try (Bebo Norman album), ''Try'' (Bebo Norman album) (2014) Songs * Try (Blue Rodeo song), "Try" (Blue Rodeo song) (1987) * Try (Colbie Caillat song), "Try" (Colbi ...
the leaders of the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Empire of Japan
for three types of crimes: "Class A" (
crimes against peace A crime against peace, in international law, is "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of War of aggression, wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan o ...
), "Class B" (
war crime A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
s), and "Class C" (crimes against humanity), committed during the Second World War. The legal basis for the trial was established by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (CIMTFE) that was proclaimed on 19 January 1946. The tribunal convened on May 3, 1946, and was adjourned on November 12, 1948. In the Tokyo Trial, Crimes against Humanity (Class C) was not applied for any suspect. Prosecutions related to the
Nanking Massacre The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing (formerly Chinese postal romanization, romanized as ''Nanking'') was the mass-scale random murder, wartime rape, looting and arson committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against the residents of Na ...
were categorised as infringements upon the
Laws of War The law of war is the component of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a com ...
. A panel of eleven
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s presided over the IMTFE, one each from victorious Allied powers (
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
,
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
,
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
,
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
,
Provisional Government of the French Republic The Provisional Government of the French Republic (PGFR) (french: Gouvernement provisoire de la République française (''GPRF'') is a name for an interim government of Free France between 3 June 1944 and 27 October 1946 following the liberation ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
,
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
, and the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
).


Types of crimes against humanity

The different types of crimes that may constitute crimes against humanity differ between definitions both internationally and on the domestic level. Isolated inhumane acts of a certain nature committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack may instead constitute grave infringements of
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
, or – depending on the circumstances –
war crimes A war crime is a violation of the laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war de ...
, but are not classified as crimes against humanity.As quoted by Guy Horton in
Dying Alive – A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma
' April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360


Apartheid

The systematic persecution of one racial group by another, such as occurred during the
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
n
apartheid Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...

apartheid
government, was recognized as a crime against humanity by the
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations System consists of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) ...
in 1976. The
Charter of the United Nations The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public internation ...
(Article 13, 14, 15) makes actions of the General Assembly advisory to the Security Council. In regard to apartheid in particular, the UN General Assembly has not made any findings, nor have apartheid-related trials for crimes against humanity been conducted.


Rape and sexual violence

Neither the Nuremberg nor Tokyo Charters contained an explicit provision recognizing sexual and gender-based crimes as war crimes or crimes against humanity, although Control Council Law No. 10 recognized rape as a crime against humanity. The statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda both included rape as a crime against humanity. The ICC is the first international instrument expressly to include various forms of sexual and gender-based crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, and other forms of sexual violence as both an underlying act of crimes against humanity and war crime committed in international and/or non-international armed conflicts. As an example, the events of the
Baku pogrom The Baku pogrom ( hy, Բաքվի ջարդեր, ) was a pogrom A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or expulsion of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , I ...
s, the Sumgait pogrom, the
Shusha massacre The Shusha massacre or Shushi massacre ( hy, Շուշիի ջարդեր, translit=Shushii charder), also known as the Shusha pogrom, was the mass killing of the Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a countr ...
, the
Siege of Stepanakert The siege of Stepanakert started in late 1991, during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, in Stepanakert, the largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh, when the Azerbaijani forces besieged the city. Until May 1992, the city and its Armenians, Armenian popula ...

Siege of Stepanakert
, and the Khatyn massacre, Khatyn can be shown that the world strongly condemns. International institutions have asked for a ransom to avoid such incidents. There are hundreds of massacres, thousands of prisoners and wounded in these incidents. In 2008, the U.N. Security Council adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820, resolution 1820, which noted that "rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide".


Legal status of crimes against humanity in international law

Unlike genocide and war crimes, which have been widely recognized and prohibited in international criminal law since the establishment of the Nuremberg principles, there has never been a comprehensive convention on crimes against humanity, even though such crimes are continuously perpetrated worldwide in numerous conflicts and crises. There are eleven international texts defining crimes against humanity, but they all differ slightly as to their definition of that crime and its legal elements.M. Cherif Bassioun
"Crimes Against Humanity"
The Crimes of War Project
In 2008, the
Crimes Against Humanity Initiative The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative is a rule of law research and advocacy project of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute. Started in 2008 by Professor Leila Nadya Sadat, the Initiative has as its goals the study of the need for a compr ...
was launched by Professor Leila Nadya Sadat at the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute to address this gap in international law. The Initiative represents the first concerted effort to address the gap that exists in international criminal law by enumerating a comprehensive international convention on crimes against humanity. On July 30, 2013, the United Nations International Law Commission voted to include the topic of crimes against humanity in its long-term program of work. In July 2014, the Commission moved this topic to its active programme of work based largely on a report submitted by Sean D. Murphy. Professor Sean D. Murphy, the United States’ Member on the United Nations’ International Law Commission, has been named the Special Rapporteur for Crimes Against Humanity. Sean D. Murphy attended the 2008 Experts' Meeting held by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative prior to this appointment. There is some debate on the status of crimes against humanity under customary international law is. M. Cherif Bassiouni argues that crimes against humanity are part of ''jus cogens'' and as such constitute a non-derogable rule of international law.


United Nations

The United Nations has been primarily responsible for the prosecution of crimes against humanity since it was chartered in 1948. After Nuremberg, there was no international court with jurisdiction over crimes against humanity for almost 50 years. Work continued on developing the definition of crimes against humanity at the United Nations, however. In 1947, the International Law Commission was charged by the United Nations General Assembly with the formulation of the principles of international law recognized and reinforced in the Nuremberg Charter and judgment, and with drafting a 'code of offenses against the peace and security of mankind'. Completed fifty years later in 1996, the Draft Code defined crimes against humanity as various inhumane acts, i.e., "murder, extermination, torture, enslavement, persecution on political, racial, religious or ethnic grounds, institutionalized discrimination, arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, rape, enforced prostitution and other inhuman acts committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group." This definition differs from the one used in Nuremberg, where the criminal acts were to have been committed "before or during the war", thus establishing a nexus between crimes against humanity and armed conflict. A report on the 2008–09 Gaza War (2008–09), Gaza War by Richard Goldstone accused Palestinian and Israeli forces of possibly committing a crime against humanity. In 2011, Goldstone said that he no longer believed that Israeli forces had targeted civilians or committed a crime against humanity. On 21 March 2013, at its 22nd session, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The commission is mandated to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular for violations that may amount to crimes against humanity. The Commission dealt with matters relating to crimes against humanity on the basis of definitions set out by customary international criminal law and in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – A/HRC/25/63, available at: The 2014 Report by the commission found "the body of testimony and other information it received establishes that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State... These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. The commission further finds that crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place." Additionally, the commission found that crimes against humanity have been committed against starving populations, particularly during the 1990s, and are being committed against persons from other countries who were systematically abducted or denied repatriation, in order to gain labour and other skills for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


Security Council

UN Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted by the United Nations Security Council on 28 April 2006, "reaffirms the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity". The United Nations Security Council Resolution, resolution commits the council to action to protect civilians in armed conflict. In 2008 the U.N. Security Council adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820, resolution 1820, which noted that "rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide". According to the United Nations Security Council resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, any direct or indirect trade of arms to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in the form of supply, transfer, or sale should be prevented by the member nations. The arms embargo restricts the supply of arms, weapons, military vehicles, spare parts, technical assistance, finances, along with the provision of armed mercenaries, with origins of a country other than the one providing. However, the United Nations claimed in its November 2019 report that the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Turkey are violating the arms embargo imposed on Libya under the 1970 resolution. An airstrike on the migrant detention center in Tripoli in July 2019, believed to have been carried out by the United Arab Emirates, can be amounted as a war crime, as stated by the United Nations. The airstrike was deadlier than the 2011 militarized uprising that overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.


International courts and criminal tribunals

After the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of 1945–1946, the next international tribunal with jurisdiction over crimes against humanity was not established for another five decades. In response to atrocities committed in the 1990s, multiple ad hoc tribunals were established with jurisdiction over crimes against humanity. The statutes of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda each contain different definitions of crimes against humanity.


International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia

In 1993, the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute three international crimes which had taken place in the former Yugoslavia: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Article 5 of the ICTY Statute states that This definition of crimes against humanity revived the original ‘Nuremberg’ nexus with armed conflict, connecting crimes against humanity to both international and non-international armed conflict. It also expanded the list of criminal acts used in Nuremberg to include imprisonment, torture and rape. Cherif Bassiouni has argued that this definition was necessary as the conflict in the former Yugoslavia was considered to be a conflict of both an international and non-international nature. Therefore, this adjusted definition of crimes against humanity was necessary to afford the tribunal jurisdiction over this crime.


International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 following the Rwandan genocide. Under the ICTR Statute, the link between crimes against humanity and an armed conflict of any kind was dropped. Rather, the requirement was added that the inhumane acts must be part of a "systematic or widespread attack against any civilian population on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds." Unlike the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the conflict in Rwanda was deemed to be non-international, so crimes against humanity would likely not have been applicable if the nexus to armed conflict had been maintained.


Special Court for Sierra Leone


Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)


International Criminal Court

In 2002, the
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizatio ...

International Criminal Court
(ICC) was established in The Hague (
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) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Rome Statute provides for the ICC to have jurisdiction over
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The definition of what is a "crime against humanity" for ICC proceedings has significantly broadened from its original legal definition or that used by the UN. Essentially, the Rome Statute employs the same definition of crimes against humanity that the ICTR Statute does, minus the requirement that the attack was carried out ‘on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds’. In addition, the Rome Statute definition offers the most expansive list of specific criminal acts that may constitute crimes against humanity to date. Article 7 of the treaty stated that: The Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum states that crimes against humanity To fall under the Rome Statute, a crime against humanity which is defined in Article 7.1 must be "part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population". Article 7.2.a states "For the purpose of paragraph 1: "Attack directed against any civilian population means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack." This means that an individual crime on its own, or even a number of such crimes, would not fall under the Rome Statute unless they were the result of a State policy or an organizational policy. This was confirmed by Luis Moreno Ocampo in an open letter publishing his conclusions about allegations of crimes committed during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 which might fall under the International Criminal Court, ICC. In a section entitled "Allegations concerning Genocide and Crimes against Humanity" he states that "the available information provided no reasonable indicator of the required elements for a crime against humanity," i.e. 'a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population'". The ICC can only prosecute crimes against humanity in situations under which it has jurisdiction. The ICC only has jurisdiction over crimes contained in its statute – genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – which have been committed on the territory of a State party to the Rome Statute, when a non-party State refers a situation within its country to the court or when the United Nation Security Council refers a case to the ICC. In 2005 the UN referred to the ICC the situation in Darfur. This referral resulted in an indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2008.International Criminal Court, 14 July 2008. . Accessed 14 July 2008. When the ICC President reported to the UN regarding its progress handling these crimes against humanity case, Judge Phillipe Kirsch said "The Court does not have the power to arrest these persons. That is the responsibility of States and other actors. Without arrests, there can be no trials.


Council of Europe

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 30 April 2002 issued a recommendation to the member states, on the protection of women against violence. In the section "Additional measures concerning violence in conflict and post-conflict situations", states in paragraph 69 that member states should: "penalize rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as an intolerable violation of human rights, as crimes against humanity and, when committed in the context of an armed conflict, as war crimes;" In the Explanatory Memorandum on this recommendation when considering paragraph 69: The Holodomor has been recognized as a crime against humanity by the European Parliament.


20th century

Sources say the 20th century can be considered the bloodiest period in global history. Millions of civilian infants, children, adults, and elderly people died in warfare. One civilian perished for every combatant killed. Efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross, humanitarian laws, and rules of warfare were not able to stop these crimes against humanity. These terminologies were invented since previous vocabulary was not enough to describe these offenses. War criminals did not fear prosecution, apprehension, or imprisonment before World War II. Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill favored the outright execution of war criminals. The United States was more lenient and called for a just trial. The British Government was convinced to institute the Nuremberg Trial which left several legacies. These are worldwide jurisdiction for severe war crimes are, creation of international war crime tribunals, judicial procedures that documented history of colossal crimes effectively, and success of UN courts in holding impartial trials. The UN pointed out the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) specifically Article 7 (Crimes against Humanity), which defines large-scale acts of violence against a locality's civilian populace. These acts consist of murder; annihilation; enslavement; bondage; forced removal of the population; imprisonment or deprivation of physical liberty that violates international laws; maltreatment; forced prostitution and rape; discrimination and tyranny against certain groups; apartheid (racial discrimination and segregation); and, other inhumane acts. A publication from Trial International mentioned that crimes against humanity have been collated starting in 1990. These were the 1993 Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, 1994 Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda, and 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The latter contains the latest and most extensive list of detailed crimes against civilians.


See also

*
Charter of the United Nations The Charter of the United Nations (also known as the UN Charter) is the foundational treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public internation ...
* Crimes against humanity under communist regimes *
Crimes Against Humanity Initiative The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative is a rule of law research and advocacy project of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute. Started in 2008 by Professor Leila Nadya Sadat, the Initiative has as its goals the study of the need for a compr ...
* Historical revisionism (negationism) * Honor killing * Human rights * Inter-American Commission on Human Rights *
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizatio ...

International Criminal Court
* Mass atrocity crimes * Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court * Rule of Law * Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action * War crimes * Universal jurisdiction


References


Further reading

* Christopher R. Browning, "The Two Different Ways of Looking at Nazi Murder" (review of Philippe Sands, ''East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity"'', Knopf, 425 pp., $32.50; and Christian Gerlach, ''The Extermination of the European Jews'', Cambridge University Press, 508 pp., $29.99 [paper]), ''The New York Review of Books'', vol. LXIII, no. 18 (November 24, 2016), pp. 56–58. Discusses Hersch Lauterpacht's legal concept of "crimes against humanity", contrasted with Rafael Lemkin's legal concept of "
genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish t ...
". All genocides are crimes against humanity, but not all crimes against humanity are genocides; genocides require a higher standard of proof, as they entail ''intent'' to destroy a particular group. * * * *(fr) Jean Albert (dir.), L'avenir de la justice pénale internationale, Institut Presage, Bruylant, 2018, 383 p. ()


External links


Crimes of War project

Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project


– an online video

– a learning resource, highlighting the cases of Myanmar, Bosnia, the DRC, and Darfur
Crimes Against Humanity – Bibliographies on the topics of the International Law Commission & International Law Seminar (UNOG Library)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Crime Against Humanity Crimes against humanity, Human rights abuses International criminal law Torture War crimes 1890s neologisms