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Unpublished Paper
Emerging from the Shadow of Nuremberg: Crimes Against Humanity in the Modern Age
ExpressO (2012)
  • Leila N Sadat, Washington University in St Louis

This Article demonstrates the central importance of Crimes Against Humanity (CAH) prosecutions at the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and in the International Criminal Court (ICC). It represents the first comprehensive and empirical assessment of what CAH charges accomplish as a matter of observable practice. This empirical analysis informs the construction of a new theory of CAH in modern international criminal law. The Article analyzes the early jurisprudence of the ICC and challenges the conventional wisdom that CAH must be interpreted unduly restrictively, with reference to Nuremberg in mind. Instead, CAH at the world’s first permanent international criminal court must emerge from the shadow of Nuremberg – as the framers of the Statute intended it to do -- and continue to develop as a contemporary response to widespread or systematic human rights violations against civilian populations. Opinions in the Court’s early case law unduly restricting the scope and application of CAH or proposing a return to the Nuremberg paradigm may have the effect of limiting the effectiveness of CAH charges at the ICC. This could render CAH at the ICC, like genocide at the ICTY, impotent not only as a basis for the post hoc punishment of offenders, but in terms of prevention and deterrence. The Article critiques this jurisprudence with a view towards developing a theory of CAH at the ICC that not only respects State sovereignty, but implements its mandate to prevent and punish “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”

  • crimes against humanity,
  • international criminal court,
  • Nuremberg,
  • genocide,
  • war crimes,
  • international criminal law,
  • international humanitarian law,
  • ICTY,
  • ICTR,
  • Special Court for Sierra Leone,
  • sexual slavery,
  • persecution,
  • ethnic cleansing,
  • international humanitarian law,
  • international human rights
Publication Date
February 24, 2012
Citation Information
Leila N Sadat. "Emerging from the Shadow of Nuremberg: Crimes Against Humanity in the Modern Age" ExpressO (2012)
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