Author: Dan

Drancy and Breendonck

A wide range of cases were handled by the UNWCC – some of the earliest included the prosecutions of Alois Brunner, commandant at Drancy (1, 2), as well as camp staff for Breendonck (1)....

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World War I, the Paris Peace Process and the Untold Legacy for the International Prosecution of War Crimes

World War I, the Paris Peace Process and the untold legacy for the international prosecution of war crimes The legacy of the Paris Peace process at the end of World War I is usually portrayed as one of unmitigated failure and indeed creating the conditions that ultimately led to the outbreak of the next war in Europe twenty years later. Despite calls for ‘justice’ from the outset of the war and a Commission being established to address war crimes and the responsibility for initiating the war as part of the process, formal justice gently petered out with some trials in a German court in Leipzig in 1921. However, the discussions in Paris in late 1918 and early 1919 played a significant role in creating the conditions that led to the establishment of the UNWCC in London in 1943, prosecutions for war crimes from Europe to the Far East as well as the tribunals in Nuremburg and Tokyo. Indeed, in considering what constituted a war crime in 1943, the UNWCC drew directly on those identified during the Paris process. Key to my ongoing research on the ways in which sexual violence became identified as a war crime is that this list produced in 1919 referred explicitly to the crimes of rape and enforced prostitution and indeed identified cases which might be suitable for investigation and prosecution. In Britain, outrage at...

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National Offices Conference

The National Offices Conference was one of the key events in the history of the UNWCC – a summit bringing together representatives of all sixteen national offices that worked with the Commission in the Royal Courts of Justice, in May/June 1945, with the aim of coordinating and giving impetus to the unprecedented set of war crimes trials planned. Indian and Chinese officials proposing path-breaking models for military justice tribunals rubbed elbows with US Navy officers describing their practical systems for mapping alleged war crimes (down to the colours of pins they used), as well seminal figures in the history of human rights like René Cassin. Below, we present footage from the Conference – sadly without sound – showing this momentous...

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