Library Dissertation Showcase

The evolution of international criminal law: how the major crimes under international law have evolved over the last century and how effective they are today

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2019

This dissertation was created with two objectives in mind, to educate on the historical evolution of international criminal law and to evaluate its effectiveness, focusing on three crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The dissertation begins by recounting the historical developments that were crucial to the formation of the International Military Tribunal, discussing the relevant multilateral treaties, the negotiations between the Allied powers at London in 1944, the work of the IMT, and the legacy that it left. It then ends the historical narrative with the major developments that were made in international criminal law during the 1990s with the two United Nations ad hoc tribunals and the formation of the International Criminal Court. Following this, the dissertation then takes a critical look at how each individual crime developed during this time, focusing on specific developments or lack thereof that took place since the IMT. Each crime is analyzed on how well it functions to prevent and punish criminals, using statistics when available but relying more upon the legal systems and frameworks which exist to evaluate their scope and applicability. This author concludes that genocide is the most effective international crime today, primarily due to the Genocide Convention and to its nature as the most abhorrent of all crimes. After genocide, war crimes are the second most effective crime, because of its historical foundation in customary international law and The Geneva Convention of 1949. Finally, crimes against humanity is the least effective crime, because of the failure to establish itself through a multilateral convention due largely to the failure of the International Law Commission, and due to the lack of political willpower to further develop this international crime.

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