Crimes Against Humanity

Authored by: Margaret M. deGuzman

Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415552035
eBook ISBN: 9780203836897
Adobe ISBN: 9781136866685


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Crimes against humanity are serious inhumane acts committed in a context that transforms them from crimes of exclusive domestic jurisdiction to crimes under international law. Unlike the other prototypically international crimes—war crimes and genocide—the proscription against crimes against humanity has yet to be enshrined in an international convention. Instead, the law of crimes against humanity has developed piecemeal, primarily through the work of the International Law Commission (ILC), the jurisprudence of various international tribunals interpreting divergent definitions, and most recently the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a result of this disorganized history, important normative and doctrinal questions remain unanswered. In particular, the context required to qualify an inhumane act as a crime against humanity is subject to considerable controversy. After describing the historical origins and evolution of crimes against humanity, this chapter explores the normative debates and doctrinal ambiguities that surround this category of international crimes.

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