Chapter

Reflections on the Prosecution of War Crimes by International Tribunals: A Historical Perspective

Theodor Meron

in The Making of International Criminal Justice

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608935
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729706 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608935.003.0008
Reflections on the Prosecution of War Crimes by International Tribunals: A Historical Perspective

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There are obvious similarities between the modern international courts and the experiences of the post-World War II tribunals. There are also, however, a number of differences between the exercise of justice in the wake of World War II and the exercise of justice today. One of the principal criticisms leveled against the post-World War II tribunals, for instance, was (and still is) that they were an exercise in victors' justice — a trial of the losers by and for the winners. This chapter highlights some of the similarities and differences between the post-World War II tribunals and the modern tribunals to show how humanitarian law has evolved. To demonstrate how the mechanisms for enforcement of humanitarian law have changed over the past hundred years, the chapter begins by examining the status of war crimes law as it existed before Nuremberg and Tokyo. It then turns to Nuremberg and Tokyo themselves and compares them to the modern international tribunals.

Keywords: international tribunals; international courts; World War II; post-war tribunals; justice; humanitarian law; war crimes law; Nuremberg; Tokyo

Chapter.  8386 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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