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'Crimes against Peace' and International Law


Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107542532

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About the Authors
  • In 1946, the judges at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared 'crimes against peace' - the planning, initiation or waging of aggressive wars - to be 'the supreme international crime'. At the time, the prosecuting powers heralded the charge as being a legal milestone, but it later proved to be an anomaly arising from the unique circumstances of the post-war period. This study traces the idea of criminalising aggression, from its origins after the First World War, through its high-water mark at the post-war tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, to its abandonment during the Cold War. Today, a similar charge - the 'crime of aggression' - is being mooted at the International Criminal Court, so the ideas and debates that shaped the original charge of 'crimes against peace' assume new significance and offer valuable insights to lawyers, policy-makers and scholars engaged in international law and international relations.

    • Provides a comprehensive legal investigation of the 'crimes against peace' charge brought at the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals
    • Identifies the limitations of some older arguments and draws out the lessons to be derived from the charge
    • Presents a wide range of hitherto unpublished archival documents and makes use of illuminating material to support original insights
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Sellars does a masterful job. Drawing heavily on period documents, many of them unpublished at the time, she provides a highly readable account of the fits and starts that accompanied the emergence of the notion that individuals may be prosecuted for a war of aggression.' John B. Quigley, International Affairs

    'Sellars does an excellent job of highlighting the various controversies and personality clashes that almost scuttled [the] early, and flawed, experiments in international criminal justice. She succeeds in synthesizing a narrative … in which the pertinent questions of international law … are placed in the context of great power politics.' Victor Kattan, Journal of International Criminal Justice

    '[This] book is more than a history of aggression; the product of comprehensive and in-depth archival research from an enviable range of sources, it is also an excellent general history of the development of international criminal law itself. There are many good books on the road to international criminal law, but if you were to read just one, I would recommend this. Its lucid pungent analysis makes it a pleasure to read.' Neil Boister, Te Piringa Faculty of Law, University of Waikato

    'There are many good books on the road to international criminal law, but if you were to read just one, I would recommend this. Its lucid pungent analysis makes it a pleasure to read.' Neil Boister, Edinburgh Law Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107542532
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The emergence of the idea of aggression
    2. The quest for control
    3. The creation of a crime
    4. Innovation and orthodoxy at Nuremberg
    5. The Allies and an ad hoc charge
    6. The elimination of Japanese militarism
    7. Questions of self-defence
    8. Divisions on the bench at Tokyo
    9. The uncertain legacy of crimes against peace

  • Author

    Kirsten Sellars, National University of Singapore
    Kirsten Sellars is a postdoctoral fellow in law at the National University of Singapore.

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