HOME

TheInfoList




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 define sovereignty and nationhood, states and territor ...
that gives rise to individual
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state 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) ...

criminal
responsibility for actions by the combatants, such as intentionally killing civilians or intentionally killing
prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian—who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict War is an intense arm ...
;
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 ...
; taking
hostage A hostage is a person seized by an abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative Relative may refer to: General use *Kinship and family, the principle binding the most basic social units society. If two people are connected by ci ...
s; unnecessarily destroying civilian property; deception by
perfidy In the context of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad a ...
;
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. ...
;
pillaging Looting is the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the syste ...
; the conscription of
child soldiers Children in the military are children (defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as people under the age of 18) who are associated with military organisations, such as state Military, armed forces and Violent non-state actor, non-stat ...
; committing
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 ...
or
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 ...
; the granting of
no quarter A victor gives no quarter when the victor shows no clemency or mercy and refuses to spare the life in return for the surrender at discretion (unconditional surrender) of a vanquished opponent. It is against modern international humanitarian law ...
, despite surrender; and flouting the legal distinctions of proportionality and
military necessity Military necessity, along with distinction, and proportionality, are three important principles of international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
. The formal concept of war crimes emerged from the codification of the
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 ...
that applied to warfare between
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
s, such as the
Lieber Code The Lieber Code of April 24, 1863, issued as General Orders No. 100, Adjutant General's Office, 1863, was an instruction signed by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American states ...
(1863) of the Union Army in the American Civil War and the
Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 File:Vredesconferentie Den Haag, Tweede 1907 - Second Peace Conference The Hague 1907.jpg, , The Second Hague Conference in 1907 The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 are a series of international treaty, treaties and declarations negotiated at tw ...
for international war. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the war-crime trials of the leaders of the Axis powers established the Nuremberg principles of law, such as the fact that
international criminal law International criminal law is a body of public international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. The co ...
defines what is a war crime. In 1949, the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish internatio ...
legally defined new war crimes and established that states could exercise
universal jurisdiction Universal jurisdiction allows Sovereign state, states or international organizations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused's nationality, country of ...
over war criminals. In the late 20th century and early 21st century,
international court International courts are formed by treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include i ...
s extrapolated and defined additional categories of war crimes applicable to a
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
.


List of War Crimes as Defined by the United Nations

Source:
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
# Intentional murder of innocent people; # Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; # Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; # Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of hostile power; #Use by children under the age of sixteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities; #Intentionally directing attack against the civilian population as not taking direct part in hostilities; #Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; # Destroying or seizing the property of an adversary unless demanded by necessities of the conflict; #Using poison or poisoned weapons; #Intentionally directing attack against building dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals as long as it's not used as military infrastructure; #Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial; # Attacking or bombarding towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military infrastructure; #Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement; # Taking of hostages. #Intentional assault with the knowledge that such an assault would result in loss of life or casualty to civilians or damage to civilian objects or extensive, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment that would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct.


History


Early examples

In 1474, the first trial for a war crime was that of
Peter von Hagenbach Peter von Hagenbach (or Pierre de Hagenbach or Pietro di Hagenbach or Pierre d’Archambaud or Pierre d'Aquenbacq, circa 1420 – May 9, 1474) was a Bourguignon knight from Alsace and Germany, German military and civil commander. He was bor ...

Peter von Hagenbach
, realised by an
ad hoc Ad hoc is a Latin phrase __NOTOC__ This is a list of Wikipedia articles of Latin phrases and their translation into English. To view all phrases on a single, lengthy document, see: * List of Latin phrases (full) The list also is divided alpha ...

ad hoc
tribunal of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, for his
command responsibility Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the legal doctrine A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often estab ...
for the actions of his soldiers, because "he, as a knight, was deemed to have a duty to prevent" criminal behaviour by a military force. Despite having argued that he had obeyed superior orders, von Hagenbach was convicted, , and beheaded.The evolution of individual criminal responsibility under international law
By Edoardo Greppi, Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Turin, Italy, International Committee of the Red Cross No. 835, pp. 531–553, 30 October 1999.
highlights the first international war crimes tribunal
by Linda Grant, Harvard Law Bulletin.


Hague Conventions

The Hague Conventions were international treaties negotiated at the First and Second Peace Conferences at
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ed ...

The Hague
, Netherlands, in 1899 and 1907, respectively, and were, along with the Geneva Conventions, among the first formal statements 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 define sovereignty and nationhood, states and territor ...
and war crimes in the nascent body of secular
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 community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
.


Geneva Conventions

The
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish internatio ...
are four related treaties adopted and continuously expanded from 1864 to 1949 that represent a legal basis and framework for the conduct of war under international law. Every single member state of the United Nations has currently ratified the conventions, which are universally accepted as
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 ...
, applicable to every situation of armed conflict in the world. However, the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions adopted in 1977 containing the most pertinent, detailed and comprehensive protections of
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 law, also known as public international la ...
for persons and objects in modern warfare are still not ratified by several states continuously engaged in armed conflicts, namely the United States, Israel, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and others. Accordingly, states retain different codes and values about wartime conduct. Some signatories have routinely violated the Geneva Conventions in a way that either uses the ambiguities of law or political maneuvering to sidestep the laws' formalities and principles. Three conventions were revised and expanded with the fourth one added in 1949: *
First Geneva Convention The First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, held on 22 August 1864, is the first of four treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in internat ...
''for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field'' (Convention ''for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field'' was adopted in 1864, significantly revised and replaced by the 1906 version, the 1929 version, and later the First Geneva Convention of 1949). *
Second Geneva Convention The Second Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea is one of the four treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in inte ...
''for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea'' (Convention ''for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea'' was adopted in 1906, significantly revised and replaced by the Second Geneva Convention of 1949). *
Third Geneva Convention The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian—who is held captive by a belligerent po ...
''relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War'' ( Convention ''relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War'' was adopted in 1929, significantly revised and replaced by the Third Geneva Convention of 1949). *
Fourth Geneva Convention The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, more commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding writt ...
''relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War'' (first adopted in 1949, based on parts of the 1907 Hague Convention IV). Two Additional Protocols were adopted in 1977 with the third one added in 2005, completing and updating the Geneva Conventions: *
Protocol I Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions The Geneva Conventions are four , and three additional , that establish for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term ''Geneva Convention'' usually denotes the ag ...
(1977) ''relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts.'' *
Protocol II Protocol II is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of ''non-international'' armed conflicts. It defines certain international laws that strive to provide better protection for victims o ...
(1977) ''relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.'' *
Protocol III Protocol III is a 2005 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreemen ...

Protocol III
(2005) ''relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem.''


Leipzig trials

Just after WWI the world governments started to try and systematically create a code for how War Crimes would be defined. Their first outline of a law was "''Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field''—also known as the “Lieber Code.” A small number of German military personnel of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
were tried in 1921 by the German Supreme Court for alleged war crimes.


London Charter / Nuremberg Trials 1945

The modern concept of war crime was further developed under the auspices of the
Nuremberg Trials #REDIRECT 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 ...
{{redirect ...
based on the definition in the London Charter that was published on August 8, 1945. (Also see Nuremberg Principles.) Along with war crimes the charter also defined crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, which are often committed during wars and in concert with war crimes.


International Military Tribunal for the Far East 1946

Also known as the Tokyo Trial, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal or simply as the Tribunal, it was convened on May 3, 1946, to try the leaders of the Empire of Japan for three types of crimes: "Class A" (crimes against peace), "Class B" (war crimes), and "Class C" (crimes against humanity), committed during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
.


International Criminal Court 2002

On July 1, 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
, a treaty-based court located in
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ed ...

The Hague
, came into being for the prosecution of war crimes committed on or after that date. Several nations, most notably the United States, China, Russia, and Israel, have criticized the court. The United States still participates as an observer. Article 12 of the Rome Statute provides jurisdiction over the citizens of non-contracting states if they are accused of committing crimes in the territory of one of the state parties. War crimes are defined in the statute that established the International Criminal Court, which includes: # Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as: ## Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health ##
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
or inhumane treatment ## Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property ## Forcing a
prisoner of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant Non-combatant is a term of art Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular Context (language use), c ...
to serve in the forces of a hostile power ## Depriving a prisoner of war of a
fair trial Fair Trial (1932–1958) was a British Thoroughbred The Thoroughbred is a horse breed A horse breed is a selectively bred population of domestication, domesticated horses, often with Pedigree chart, pedigrees recorded in a breed registry. ...
## Unlawful
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 ...
, confinement or transfer ## Taking
hostage A hostage is a person seized by an abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative Relative may refer to: General use *Kinship and family, the principle binding the most basic social units society. If two people are connected by ci ...
s ## Directing attacks against civilians ## Directing attacks against humanitarian workers or UN peacekeepers ## Killing a surrendered combatant ## Misusing a flag of truce ## Settlement of occupied territory ## Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory ## Using poison weapons ## Using civilians as shields ## Using
child soldiers Children in the military are children (defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as people under the age of 18) who are associated with military organisations, such as state Military, armed forces and Violent non-state actor, non-stat ...
## Firing upon a
Combat Medic In the United States Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the Military, military forces of the United States of America. The armed forces consists of six Military branch, service branches: the United States Army, Army, Unite ...
with clear insignia. # The following acts as part of a non-international conflict: ## Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture ## Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or UN peacekeepers # The following acts as part of an international conflict: ## Taking hostages ##
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 ...
##
Pillage Looting is the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, typically in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war, natural disasters (where law and civil enforcement are temporarily ineffective), or rioting. ...
## Rape,
sexual slavery Sexual slavery and sexual exploitation is attaching the right of ownership over one or more people with the intent of coercing or otherwise forcing them to engage in sexual activities. This includes forced labor Forced labour, or unfr ...
, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy However the court only has jurisdiction over these crimes where they are "''part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes''".


Prominent indictees


Heads of state and government

To date, the present and former
heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and leg ...
and
heads of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administrati ...
that have been charged with war crimes include: * German
Großadmiral
Großadmiral
and
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
Karl Dönitz Karl Dönitz (sometimes spelled Doenitz; ; 16 September 1891 24 December 1980) was a Nazi Germany, German admiral who briefly succeeded Adolf Hitler as head of state in May 1945, holding the position until the dissolution of the Flensburg Gover ...

Karl Dönitz
and Japanese
Prime Ministers A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
and Generals
Hideki Tōjō Hideki Tojo (, ', December 30, 1884 – December 23, 1948) was a Japanese politician, general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or nav ...

Hideki Tōjō
and
Kuniaki Koiso was a Japanese general in the Imperial Japanese Army Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperi ...

Kuniaki Koiso
in the aftermath of World War II. * Former
Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refer to: ** Serbian language ...
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
Slobodan Milošević Slobodan Milošević ( sr-Cyrl, Слободан Милошевић, ; 20 August 1941 – 11 March 2006) was a Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav and Serbian politician who served as the President of Serbia, president of Republic o ...
was brought to trial charges with, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in three republics. This pertained to superior responsibility for the Bosnia and Croatia indictments, and individual responsibility for the Kosovo indictment. He was acquitted, however, as he died in custody in 2006, before the trial could be concluded. * Former Liberian President Charles G. Taylor was also brought to The Hague charged with war crimes; his trial stretched from 2007 to March 2011. He was convicted in April 2012 of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. * Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadžić was arrested in Belgrade on July 18, 2008, and brought before Belgrade's War Crimes Court a few days after. He was extradited to the Netherlands, and is currently in The Hague, in the custody of 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 trial began in 2010. On March 24, 2016, he was found guilty 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 ...
in
Srebrenica Srebrenica ( sr-cyrl, Сребреница, ) is a town and municipality located in the easternmost part of Republika Srpska, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a small mountain town, with its main industry being Salt mine, salt mining an ...

Srebrenica
, war crimes and
crimes against humanity 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, government A g ...
, 10 of the 11 charges in total, and sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment. He was sentenced to life on appeal. * Omar al-Bashir, former head of state of
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
, is charged with three counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes regarding the 2003– War in the Darfur region of Sudan. The first head of state charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court with current warrants of arrest actions in Darfur. * Former
Libyan Libyans (ليبيون) and their population density, Ethnic group, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the Libyan population. No complete population or vital statistics ...

Libyan
leader
Muammar Gaddafi Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, Modern Standard . Due to the lack of standardization of transcribing written and regionally pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Ling ...
was indicted for allegedly ordering the killings of protesters and civilians and Crimes against Humanity, during the
2011 Libyan civil war The First Libyan Civil War was an armed conflict in 2011 in the North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and ...

2011 Libyan civil war
, however, he was killed before he could stand trial in October 2011.


Other

*
Yoshijirō Umezu (January 4, 1882 – January 8, 1949) was a Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , ...
, a general in the
Imperial Japanese Army The was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan The was a historical and that existed from the in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II and subsequent formation of modern . It encompassed the ...
*
Seishirō Itagaki was a Japanese military officer and politician who served as a general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a mi ...

Seishirō Itagaki
,
War minister A defence minister or minister of defence is a Cabinet (government), cabinet official position in charge of a ministry of defense, which regulates the armed forces in sovereign states. The role of a defence minister varies considerably from countr ...
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
*
Hermann Göring Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering; ; 12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German politician, military leader and convicted war criminal. He was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially ...

Hermann Göring
, Commander in Chief of the
Luftwaffe The ''Luftwaffe'' () was the aerial-warfare branch of the German ''Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), th ...
. *
Ernst Kaltenbrunner Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 190316 October 1946) was a high-ranking Austrian SS official during the Nazi era Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist German ...

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
and
Adolf Eichmann Otto Adolf Eichmann ( ,"Eichmann"
''
, high-ranking members of the . *
Wilhelm Keitel Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel (; 22 September 188216 October 1946) was a German field marshal and war criminal who held office as Chief of the '' Oberkommando der Wehrmacht'' (OKW), the high command of Nazi Germany's Armed Forces, during ...

Wilhelm Keitel
,
Generalfeldmarschall ''Generalfeldmarschall'' (from Old High German ''marahscalc'', "marshal, stable master, groom") ( en, general field marshal, field marshal general, or field marshal; ; often abbreviated to ''Feldmarschall'') was a rank in the armies of several ...
, head of the
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht The (; ''OKW'', ) was the High Command of the Armed forces (Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), the ''Kriegsmar ...
. *
Erich Raeder Erich Johann Albert Raeder (24 April 1876 – 6 November 1960) was a German admiral who played a major role in the naval history of World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank, that of Grand Admiral, in 1939, becoming the firs ...

Erich Raeder
, , Commander in Chief of the
Kriegsmarine The ''Kriegsmarine'' (, ) was the navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily inte ...
. *
Albert Speer Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (; ; March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) served as the Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for s ...
, Minister of Armaments and War Production in
Nazi Germany 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 ...

Nazi Germany
1942–45. *
William Calley William Laws Calley Jr. (born June 8, 1943) is an American war criminal and a former United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Unifo ...
, former U.S. Army officer found guilty of murder for his role in the My Lai Massacre *
General Tikka Khan General officer, General Tikka Khan (10 February 1915 – 28 March 2002) was a four-star rank, four-star army general in the Pakistan Army who was the first Chief of Army Staff (Pakistan), chief of army staff from 3 March 1972 until retiring ...
, aka "Butcher of Bengal" was a notorious Pakistan Army General known for his war crimes in Bangladesh during the
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender, fall of Dacca ( ...
. * Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, more commonly known by his nickname "Chemical Ali", executed by post-Ba'athist Iraq for his leadership of the gassing of
Kurd Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranic ethnic group native to a mountainous region of Western Asia known as Kurdistan, which spans southeastern Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the ...

Kurd
ish villages during the Iran-Iraq War; also governor of illegally occupied
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
during the
First Gulf War The Gulf War was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِر ...
* Ratko Mladić, indicted for
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 ...
amongst other violations of humanitarian law during the
Bosnian War The Bosnian War ( sh, Rat u Bosni i Hercegovini / Рат у Босни и Херцеговини) was an international armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or ...
; he was captured in Serbia in May 2011 and was extradited to face trial in The Hague, wherein he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. *
Joseph Kony Joseph Kony (likely born 1961) is a Ugandan militant, who founded the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Christian fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalist organization, designated as a terrorist group by the MONUSCO, United Nations Peacekeepers, ...
, leader of the
Lord's Resistance Army The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord's Resistance Movement, is a rebel group and heterodox Christian group which operates in northern Uganda Uganda (Languages of Uganda, Ugandan Languages: Yuganda ), officially the ...
, guerrilla group which used to operate in Uganda.


Definition

War crimes are serious violations of the rules of customary and treaty law concerning
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 law, also known as public international la ...
that have become accepted as criminal offenses for which there is individual responsibility. Colloquial definitions of ''war crime'' include violations of established protections of the ''laws of war'', but also include failures to adhere to norms of procedure and rules of battle, such as attacking those displaying a peaceful
flag of truce White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale. The white flag The white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and for negotiation. It is also used to symbolize ...
, or using that same flag as a ruse to mount an attack on enemy troops. The use of
chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which ...
and
biological weapons A culture of '' Bacillus anthracis'', the causative agent of anthrax.">anthrax.html" ;"title="Bacillus anthracis'', the causative agent of anthrax">Bacillus anthracis'', the causative agent of anthrax. A biological agent (also called bio-agent, ...
in warfare are also prohibited by numerous chemical arms control agreements and the Biological Weapons Convention. Wearing enemy uniforms or civilian clothes to infiltrate enemy lines for espionage or sabotage missions is a legitimate ruse of war, though fighting in combat or assassinations, assassinating individuals behind enemy lines while so disguised is not, as it constitutes unlawful
perfidy In the context of war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad a ...
. Attacking Paratrooper, enemy troops while they are being deployed by way of a parachute is not a war crime. However, Protocol I, Article 42 of the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish internatio ...
explicitly forbids Attacks on parachutists, attacking parachutists who eject from disabled aircraft and surrendering parachutists once landed.''Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict'', International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, Switzerlan
(Protocol I)
Article 30 of the 1907 Hague Convention ''IV – The Laws and Customs of War on Land'' explicitly forbids belligerents to punish enemy spies without previous trial. The rule of war, also known as the Law of Armed Conflict, permit belligerents to engage in combat. A war crime occurs when superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is inflicted upon an enemy. War crimes also include such acts as mistreatment of prisoner of war, prisoners of war or civilians. War crimes are sometimes part of instances of mass murder and
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 ...
though these crimes are more broadly covered under
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 law, also known as public international la ...
described as crime against humanity, crimes against humanity. 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"; see also war rape. In 2016, 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
convicted someone of sexual violence for the first time; specifically, they added rape to a war crimes conviction of Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. War crimes also included deliberate attacks on citizens and property of Neutrality (international relations), neutral states, such as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As the attack on Pearl Harbor happened while the U.S. and Japan were at peace and without a just cause for self-defense, the attack was declared by the Tokyo Trials to go beyond justification of
military necessity Military necessity, along with distinction, and proportionality, are three important principles of international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
and therefore constituted a war crime. War crimes are significant in international humanitarian law because it is an area where international tribunals such as the
Nuremberg Trials #REDIRECT 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 ...
{{redirect ...
and Tokyo Trials have been convened. Recent examples are the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which were established by the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, UN Charter. Under the Nuremberg Principles, ''war crimes'' are different from crimes against peace. Crimes against peace include planning, preparing, initiating, or waging a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances. Because the definition of a state of "war" may be debated, the term "war crime" itself has seen different usage under different systems of international and military law. It has some degree of application outside of what some may consider being a state of "war", but in areas where conflicts persist enough to constitute social instability. The legalities of war have sometimes been accused of containing favoritism toward the winners ("Victor's justice"), as some controversies have not been ruled as war crimes. Some examples include the Allies of World War II, Allies' destruction of Axis Powers, Axis cities during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, such as the Bombing of Dresden in World War II, firebombing of Dresden, the Bombing of Tokyo (10 March 1945), ''Operation Meetinghouse'' raid on Tokyo (the most destructive single bombing raid in history), and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In regard to the strategic bombing during World War II, there was no international treaty or instrument protecting a civilian population specifically from attack by aircraft, therefore the aerial attacks on civilians were not officially war crimes. The Allies at the trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo never prosecuted the Germans, including
Luftwaffe The ''Luftwaffe'' () was the aerial-warfare branch of the German ''Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), th ...
commander-in-chief
Hermann Göring Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering; ; 12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German politician, military leader and convicted war criminal. He was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially ...

Hermann Göring
, for the bombing raids on Bombing of Warsaw in World War II, Warsaw, Rotterdam Blitz, Rotterdam, and British cities during the Blitz as well as the indiscriminate attacks on Allied cities with V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets, nor the Japanese for the aerial attacks on crowded Chinese cities. Although there are no treaties specific to aerial warfare, Protocol 1, Article 51 of the Geneva Conventions explicitly prohibits the bombardment of cities where the civilian population might be concentrated regardless of any method. (see Aerial bombardment and international law). Controversy arose when the Allies re-designated German POWs (under the protection of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War) as Disarmed Enemy Forces (allegedly unprotected by the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War), many of which were then used for forced labor such as clearing Land mine, minefields.S. P. MacKenzie "The Treatment of Prisoners of War in World War II" ''The Journal of Modern History'', Vol. 66, No. 3. (Sep. 1994), pp. 487–520. By December 1945, six months after the war had ended, it was estimated by French authorities that 2,000 German prisoners were still being killed or maimed each month in mine-clearing accidents. The wording of the 1949
Third Geneva Convention The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian—who is held captive by a belligerent po ...
was intentionally altered from that of the 1929 convention so that soldiers who "fall into the power" following surrender or mass capitulation of an enemy are now protected as well as those taken prisoner in the course of fighting.


Legality of civilian casualties

Under the law of armed conflict (LOAC), the death of non-combatants is not necessarily a violation; there are many things to take into account. Civilians ''cannot'' be made the object of an attack, but the death/injury of civilians while conducting an attack on a military objective are governed under principles such as of proportionality and
military necessity Military necessity, along with distinction, and proportionality, are three important principles of international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
and can be permissible. Military necessity "permits the destruction of life of ... persons whose destruction is incidentally unavoidable by the armed conflicts of the war; ... it does not permit the killing of innocent inhabitants for purposes of revenge or the satisfaction of a lust to kill. The destruction of property to be lawful must be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war." For example, conducting an operation on an ammunition depot or a terrorist training camp would not be prohibited because a farmer is plowing a field in the area; the farmer is not the object of attack and the operations would adhere to proportionality and military necessity. On the other hand, an extraordinary military advantage would be necessary to justify an operation posing risks of collateral death or injury to thousands of civilians. In "grayer" cases the legal question of whether the expected incidental harm is excessive may be very subjective. For this reason, States have chosen to apply a "clearly excessive" standard for determining whether a criminal violation has occurred. When there is no justification for military action, such as civilians being made the object of attack, a proportionality analysis is unnecessary to conclude that the attack is unlawful.


International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

For aerial strikes, pilots generally have to rely on information supplied by external sources (headquarters, ground troops) that a specific position is in fact a military target. In the case of former Yugoslavia, NATO pilots hit a civilian object (the United States bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Chinese embassy in Belgrade) that was of no military significance, but the pilots had no idea of determining it aside from their orders. The committee ruled that "the aircrew involved in the attack should not be assigned any responsibility for the fact they were given the wrong target and that it is inappropriate to attempt to assign criminal responsibility for the incident to senior leaders because they were provided with wrong information by officials of another agency". The report also notes that "Much of the material submitted to the OTP consisted of reports that civilians had been killed, often inviting the conclusion to be drawn that crimes had therefore been committed. Collateral casualties to civilians and collateral damage to civilian objects can occur for a variety of reasons."


Rendulic Rule

The Rendulic Rule is a standard by which commanders are judged. German General Lothar Rendulic was charged for ordering extensive destruction of civilian buildings and lands while retreating from a suspected enemy attack in what is called scorched earth policy for the military purpose of denying the use of ground for the enemy. He overestimated the perceived risk but argued that Hague IV Convention, Hague IV authorized the destruction because it was necessary to war. He was acquitted of that charge. Under the "Rendulic Rule" persons must assess the military necessity of an action based on the information available to them at that time; they cannot be judged based on information that subsequently comes to light.


War Crimes in Modern Times


Stryker Infantry Brigade "Kill Team"

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs arrives at his new platoon and starts talking about how easy it was to "toss a grenade at someone and kill them". He started recruiting people on his team like Jeremy Morlock, 22, among others to form a "kill team". One of their first killings was Gul Mudin, who was killed "by means of throwing a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle." The next victim Marach Agha came just months later. Gibbs is alleged to have shot him and placed a Kalashnikov next to the body. The soldiers were reported taking fingers of their victims and posting them on social media. The five soldiers – Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield – are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges.


Libyan Government Detention of Migrants

The Libyan government has been caught in the crossfire of the United Nations Human Rights governing body while they are facing allegations of detaining more than 5,000 migrants, including hundreds of children and women. Libya is in a rough spot right now with their government in shambles and voting in process for new leadership. Libya has been whittled with war since the fall of former autocrat Moammar Gadhafi 10 years ago. Reports say that "87,000 migrants have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard since 2016, including about 7,000 who are now in centers run by the country’s Department for Combating Illegal Migration."


See also


Country listings

* List of war crimes * 1971 Bangladesh atrocities * Allied war crimes during World War II * British war crimes * German war crimes ** Consequences of Nazism ** Holocaust ** War crimes of the Wehrmacht * International Military Tribunal for the Far East * Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant#Human rights abuse and war crime findings, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant war crimes findings * Italian war crimes * Japanese war crimes * Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen * :Korean War crimes, Korean War crimes * Soviet war crimes ** Russian war crimes * United States Senate Committee on the Philippines * United States war crimes


Legal issues

* American Service-Members' Protection Act * Command responsibility *
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
* Law of war *Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court *Rule of law * Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project (RULAC) * Russell Tribunal * Special Court for Sierra Leone * The International Criminal Court and the 2003 invasion of Iraq * War Crimes Law (Belgium) * War Crimes Act of 1996 * Universal jurisdiction


Miscellaneous

* Chronicles of Terror * Civilian internee * Commando Order, Commando order * Commissar Order, Commissar order * Crimes against humanity * Crime against peace * Crime of aggression * Doctors' trial, Doctors' Trial * Forensic archaeology * Human shield * International Criminal Court investigations * Katyn massacre * List of denaturalized former citizens of the United States, including those denaturalized for concealing involvement in war crimes to obtain American citizenship, that country's citizenship * Looting * Mass Atrocity crimes * Mass killing * Military use of children * Nazi human experimentation * NKVD prisoner massacres * No quarter * Nuremberg Principles * Perfidy * Razakars (Pakistan) * Satellite Sentinel Project * Srebrenica massacre * State terrorism * Terror bombing * Transitional justice * Unlawful combatant * Wartime sexual violence * Winter Soldier Investigation


References


Further reading

* * * Hagopian, Patrick (2013). ''American Immunity: War Crimes and the Limits of International Law.'' Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. * * *


External links


Australian Bunker And Military Museum - abmm.org
* * * *
War Crimes: Responsibility and the Psychology of Atrocity
* Human Rights First
Command's Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

TheRule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project



Crimes of War Project

Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court

Special Court for Sierra Leone

UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda



CBC Digital Archives -Fleeing Justice: War Criminals in Canada

A Criminological Analysis of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq By Ronald C. Kramer and Raymond J. Michalowski
*
Investigating Human Rights – Reaching Out to Diaspora Communities in U.S. for War Crimes Tips
(FBI)

UK's Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1995 – which bans War Crimes {{DEFAULTSORT:War Crime Aftermath of war International criminal law Laws of war Violence against men War crimes, Warfare, crimes Violence against women