Implementing International Humanitarian Law: From the Ad Hoc Tribunals to a Permanent International Criminal Court

By Yusuf Aksar | Go to book overview

Introduction

International human rights law and international humanitarian law are both part of international law. Although there are significant differences between two branches of international law, they are interrelated in protecting the rights of individuals. As far as the concept of international humanitarian law is concerned, one of the main purposes of this branch is to enforce-in addition to State responsibility-individual criminal responsibility through either domestic courts or international tribunals (or courts, ad hoc or permanent). 1

Since national courts are not adequate in this respect, the establishment of international criminal institutions were inescapable. The international community was faced with the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and at Tokyo after the Second World War. 2 The practice of the International Military Tribunals has played a key role in applying customary international law and conventional law rules, which were accepted by the international community before the alleged crimes committed in the Second World War, and for the first time in its history the international community witnessed the categorisation of international crimes such as crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The acceptance of international crimes either under conventional or customary law rules and the possibility of enforcing individual criminal responsibility through international organisations demonstrated the desirability of the establishment of an international criminal court. The main reason for this was the widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and of international humanitarian law during the twentieth century. In 1993 and 1994, the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution

1. For differences and similarities between international human rights and international humanitarian law, see Vinuesa, R.E., 'Interface, Correspondence and Convergence of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law' (1998), 1 YIHL, pp. 69-110; Eide, A., 'The Laws of War and Human Rights-Differences and Convergences', in C. Swinarski (ed.), Studies and Essays on International Humanitarian Law and Red Cross Principles in Honour of Jean Pictet (Geneva, The Hague: International Committee of the Red Cross, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1984), pp. 675-97; Robertson, A.H., 'Humanitarian Law and Human Rights', in C. Swinarski (ed.), pp. 793-802. For the concept of international humanitarian law, see McCoubrey, H., International Humanitarian Law Modern Developments in the Limitation of Warfare, Second Edition (Aldershot, Brookfield USA, Singapore, Sydney: Ashgate, Dartmouth, 1998); McCoubrey, H. and White, N.D., International Law and Armed Conflict (Aldershot, Brookfield USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney: Dartmouth, 1992), pp. 257-78.

2. See infra Chapter 1, note 1.

-1-

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