Month: February 2017

Archival research: Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, and France

The UNWCC was active in coordinating war crimes prosecutions across Europe and beyond, but much of this history has gone unremembered. This post gathers together research on the UNWCC’s actions across France, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, unearthing intriguing insights on early charges for mass killings of Jews and for sexual assault, domestic war crimes law, and the surprising scale and geographic distribution of prosecutions. We’ve put together brief ‘taster’ dossiers of key issues of interest to the study of international criminal law, detailing UNWCC activities in the Netherlands and Yugoslavia. Originally prepared by former project assistant, Leah Owen (Oxford) for a presentation by Dan Plesch at the Hague Institute for Global Justice, these two dossiers compile basic information about the UNWCC in each country, as well as selections from the UNWCC archives on a wide range of topics including Holocaust-related charges, criminal and command responsibility, and the role played by national legal codes. We also have the raw data for the previous post, by former project intern Christelle Meda (Panthéon-Assas). In this spreadsheet, Christelle delves into the 242 UNWCC cases prosecuted in French courts, examining their defendants, charges, sentences, issues of note, and...

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Justice before Nuremberg: findings from French trial reports

Ed: The charges levelled through the UNWCC led to nearly two thousand trials from among member states. What follows is an analysis of UNWCC cases prosecuted after the end of the war by French courts, conducted by Christelle Meda, former project intern with the UNWCC research project. In it, she finds that these cases addressed many highly important aspects of international criminal law, often predating the tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo. These show the surprisingly advanced legal structures and reasoning associated with this postwar justice project. You can read more on the judgements and cases Christelle refers to in our online archive, here. ‘I commend this important meeting and welcome your efforts to delve more deeply into the origins of the United Nations. That pre-history was a period in which states and peoples responded to grave threats with remarkable vision and resolve… Let us learn what more there is to know.’ — Ban Ki-moon In France, master students in international criminal law are taught that the origin of the International Criminal Court is to be found in the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunal jurisprudence. What we are not taught is that there was a previous organisation to those tribunals the United Nations War Crimes Commission. I was then surprised to find out at a presentation of D. Plesch at the International Bar Association Conference last year, that there was a Commission prior...

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Researchers Push to Open UN Archive Documenting World War II Cases

CISD Director, Dan Plesch and the UNWCC project research team are campaigning for a largely unknown UN archive documenting 10,000 cases against World War II criminals to be made public for the first time in 60 years. Read more in an Associated Press article featured in The Washington Post. This campaign is part of a project on United Nations War Crimes Commission 1943-48, which is part of the Centre’s research programme The UN in World War II. This project is in partnership with the Wiener Library for Holocaust and Genocide Studies who recently featured in the International Herald Tribune. Visit our media gallery to listen to an interview with Dan Plesch about the archives on BBC World Service Radio...

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