The Permanent Court of International Justice, 1920-1942

By Manley O. Hudson; Bureau of International Research of Harvard University and Radcliffe College | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6 THE PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

§81. Recommendation of the 1920 Committee of Jurists . At the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919, a commission suggested the creation of an ad hoc international "high tribunal" to deal with four categories of "violations of the laws and customs of war and of the laws of humanity,"1 and an abortive provision was included in Article 227 of the Treaty of Versailles for a "special tribunal" to try the former German Emperor. In 1920 the Committee of Jurists which drafted the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice dopted a recommendation that a separate High Court of International Justice be created, "competent to try crimes constituting a breach of international public order or against the universal law of nations";2 this vŔu was the subject of a protracted debate,3 but it may not have represented a very firm conviction on the part of some of the members of the Committee.4 It was received without enthusiasm by the Council of the League of Nations;5 and it led to no positive result in the First Assembly of the League of Nations, where the view was expressed that "there is not yet any international penal law recognized by all nations," and that "if it were possible to refer certain crimes to any jurisdiction, it would be more practical to establish a special chamber in the [Permanent] Court of International Justice."6 In spite of this reception, however, the recommendation continued to stimulate interest during the years following 1920, and among both organizations and publicists the idea of an international criminal court found favor. It was considered at successive meetings of the International

____________________
1
The commission's report is published in 14 American Journal of International Law ( 1920), pp. 95-154. Reservations were made by the American and the Japanese members of the commission. Cf., 3 Miller's Diary at the Peace Conference, pp. 458-526.
2
Minutes of the 1920 Committee of Jurists, p. 748.
3
Idem, pp. 498-515.
4
See the explanation by Elihu Root, who was a member of the 1920 Committee of Jurists, in Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 1921, p. 69.
5
Minutes of the Council, 10th session ( 1920), pp. 181-182.
6
Records of the First Assembly, Committees, I, p. 589. The Third Committee of the First Assembly concluded that "there is no occasion for the Assembly of the League of Nations to adopt any resolution on this subject."

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