How international criminal justice was born in the shadow of the atomic bomb

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The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are now thought of as one of the darkest episodes in recent human history – but even in the brief time between them, a new hope for a legal world order was coming into view. On August 8 1945, just before the bombing of Nagasaki, the London Agreement was signed, formally establishing the Nuremberg Trials. The charter would become the foundation for a system of individual criminal responsibility for the gravest of atrocities, irrespective of rank. Göring, Hess and other leading Nazis were tried that November, and their trials cemented a legal and political benchmark for the design of international criminal justice. 70 years on international criminal justice looks very different. After decades of geo-political indifference, its rate of growth over the past 30 years has been unrelenting. In the aftermath of the lawless horrors of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, a guilt-ridden UN Security Council re-launched the precedent in the early 1990s.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2015


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