In untroubled times, progress toward an effective rule of law in the
international community is slow indeed. Inertia rests more heavily
upon the society of nations than upon any other society. Now we stand
at one of those rare moments when the thought and institutions and
habits of the world have been shaken by the impact of world war on
the lives of countless millions. Such occasions rarely come and quickly
pass. We are put under a heavy responsibility to see that our behavior.
during this unsettled period will direct the world's thought toward a
firmer enforcement of the laws of international conduct, so as to make
war less attractive to those who have governments and the destinies
of peoples in their power.
The quotations are from Eppstein, The Catholic Tradition of the Law
of Nations ( London, 1935), p. 65. Other useful works on the relation between
war and Christian doctrine include Nussbaum, "Just War—A legal Concept?" Michigan Law Review 42 ( 1943):453; Von Elbe, "The Evolution of the
Concept of the Just War in International Law", American Journal of International Law 33 ( 1939):665; Regout, La Doctrine de Guerre Juste ( 1934).
Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625).
The course of events with respect to war crimes charges of all descriptions
following the First World War is set forth comprehensively and clearly in History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission ( London, HMSO 1948).
This language was part of Article 227 of the Treaty of Versailles which
provided that a "special tribunal" would be established to try "William II
of Hohenzollern, formerly German Emperor." The government of the Netherlands, where the ex-Kaiser had sought refuge, refused to turn him over to
the Allies, on the ground that the offense charged was unknown in Dutch
law and appeared to be of a political rather than a criminal character.
There was, however, a significant gap in the procedure, in that the
decision of the superior body (the Council of the League of Nations) had
to be unanimous, except for the parties to the dispute themselves. If unanimity
was unattainable, then all members were free "to take such action as they
shall consider necessary for the maintenance of right and justice." The action
might be war, thus legitimized by the League's inaction.
There were other agreements and international resolutions to which the United States was a party that renounced war. Perhaps the most important
was the resolution of the Sixth Pan-American Conference at Havana in 1928,
which characterized "war of aggression" as "an international crime against
the human species" and declared it "illicit" and "prohibited."
The discussion in the United Nations War Crimes Commission and in
its legal committee is set forth in the commission's "History," supra note
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: War, Morality, and the Military Profession.
Contributors: Malham M. Wakin - Author.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 1986.
Page number: 237.
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