Nuremberg Trials Legal Precedent

In June 1945, after Germany`s surrender, delegations from the four Allied powers – the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union – met in London to draft a charter. He created an international tribunal to prosecute German leaders. Article 6 of the Charter described the Tribunal`s jurisdiction or authority: The IMT and other subsequent Allied processes have had mixed success in achieving the first two Allied objectives. While hundreds of Nazi perpetrators were convicted of war crimes, the vast majority were sentenced to prison terms of 20 years or less. In 1955, less than a decade into the Cold War, the Western Allies ended the formal occupation of West Germany and reconstituted the German army. As part of this process, the Western Allies released more than 3,300 imprisoned Nazis. Among those released early were three men convicted by the International Military Tribunal: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, Walther Funk and Konstantin von Neurath. The Cold War also prevented the IMT from deterring future aggression by setting a precedent for bringing war criminals to justice before an international tribunal. It was not until 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that another international war crimes trial took place. The Nuremberg Principle IV is legally supported by the jurisprudence of certain articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that deal indirectly with conscientious objection.

[ref. needed] It is also based on the principles set out in paragraph 171 of the Manual on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These principles concern the conditions under which conscientious objectors may apply for refugee status in another country if they are persecuted in their own country because they refuse to participate in an illegal war. The Prague courts were a precedent and a promise. As part of the universal determination to avoid the scourge of war, precedents have been set prohibiting wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The implicit promise to the world is that in the future such crimes will be condemned wherever they are committed and that no person or nation will be above the law. After half a century, it now seems possible that the promise has not yet been kept. 5.2 Post-Nuremberg war crimes trials In particular, the International Military Tribunal and the twelve subsequent Nuremberg trials laid the foundation for the further development of international criminal law.

This acute disagreement has not been fully expressed, especially because it relates to a foreign policy issue on which this nation has already acted and on which debate may seem pointless or, worse, only tarnish the prestige and power of this country abroad. Moreover, for the casual reader of the newspaper, the long-term effects of the process are not obvious. He sees very clearly that in the dock are a number of well-known men who clearly deserve to be punished. And it is gratifying to note that four victorious nations that disagreed on all post-war issues joined forces through a miracle of administrative skills in a process that overcomes the obstacles of different languages, professional habits and legal traditions. But the deepest observer is aware that the foundations of the Nuremberg trials may mark a turning point in modern law. Contrary to initial plans, no subsequent international tribunal was held because the four Allies could not agree on joint follow-up trials. 5.3.1 Historical introduction The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials were based on the desire that atrocities similar to those committed during the Second World War “never be repeated.” In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring: “As the international community develops, there will be a growing need for an international judicial body to prosecute certain crimes under international law.” (13) Initiatives to create such an institution were taken as early as 1937 by the League of Nations, which drew up a convention establishing an international criminal court, but the Cold War led to a blockade by the international community and the issue fell into oblivion.

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