Legality and Legitimacy of International Criminal Tribunals

Vesselin Popovski

in Legality and Legitimacy in Global Affairs

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199781577
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932887 | DOI:
Legality and Legitimacy of International Criminal Tribunals

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This chapter examines the evolution of international criminal justice, from the earliest known tribunal to the International Criminal Court. It traces arguments supporting and criticizing these tribunals, from both legality and legitimacy perspectives, and explores the implications for the relationship between the two concepts. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials are seen as a strong example of legitimacy trumping legality, forcing international law to address the gaps they highlighted. The trials were exceptional, unprecedented measures, which were nevertheless seen as preferable to the two alternatives of amnesty or extrajudicial executions. They suffered from numerous legality failings related to their establishment and fundamental flaws in legal procedure, while their legitimacy was also lacking in terms of impartiality, objectivity, and hypocrisy. But despite these shortcomings, they gradually gained widespread legitimacy by contributing to sustained peace in Germany and Japan and implementing the concept of individual criminal accountability in international law.

Keywords: international criminal justice; Nuremberg trial; Tokyo trial; international law; criminal accountability

Chapter.  13023 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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