A Short History of War Law


http://www.makewarshistory.org.uk/index/short-history-of-war-law.html


“War between nations was renounced by the signatories of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty.  This means that it has become throughout practically the entire world an illegal thing.  Hereafter, when nations engage in armed conflict, either one or both of them must be termed violators of this general treaty law.... We denounce them as law breakers." --
 Henry Stimson, USA Secretary of State 1932


The horrors of the First World War were such that statesmen were determined to end warfare once and for all.  The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War was signed in 1928 and eventually ratified by 62 States including France, America, Britain, Germany, Japan and Italy.  It became known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact after its main proponents the American Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and France’s foreign minister Aristide Briand.  This was the first treaty prohibiting the waging of war and it formed the legal basis for the convictions of Germany’s leaders at Nuremburg after World War II.

In 1945 The United Nations was founded to eliminate warfare, promote human rights, uphold justice and international treaties and advance the economic and social interests of humankind.  One of its first actions was to set up an International Law Commission to draw up statute war laws based on the judgments of the Nuremburg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals.  In 1950 the General Assembly accepted the Commission’s proposals and enacted seven new war laws to be known as the Nuremburg Principles.  In 1948 the Genocide Convention was enacted, to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust and ensure that no-one would ever again attempt to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.  But for the persistence of Senator William Proxmire the USA might never have ratified this law, but eventually in 1988 under President Reagan the Genocide Convention Implementation Act [The Proxmire Act] became law in America.   

The fifty year period after the signing of the Genocide Convention saw the signing of several important war laws with additions to the Geneva Conventions, a treaty outlawing torture, conventions governing the manufacture, trading and use of chemical, biological and toxin weapons; and in 1998 the world outlawed the use of landmines.  In 2002 with the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the world’s first international law enforcement authority was set up in The Hague with jurisdiction over the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.   

Although the world community has made strenuous efforts to outlaw war, it encounters great difficulty in enforcing the law.  National leaders tend to ignore and violate war law as and when it suits their interests.  Only when a leader of a major nation is convicted of war crimes in court will the world be in a position to eradicate warfare and armed conflict once and for all.

The Laws Prohibiting War

“The solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involves the proposition that such a war is illegal in international law; and that those who plan and wage such a war, with its inevitable and terrible consequences, are committing a crime in so doing.” --  Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal



CONTENTS


INTERNATIONAL LAW

The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War [Kellogg-Briand Pact]   

The United Nations Charter

The Nuremburg Judgement

The Nuremburg Principles

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court


DOMESTIC
UK LAW

The International Criminal Court Act 2001

 


INTERNATIONAL  LAW


The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War 1928
(The Kellogg-Briand Pact)

This solemn and binding treaty unconditionally condemned and renounced recourse to war as an instrument of national policy, and promised that henceforth all international disputes would be settled peacefully.  This treaty is still in force and together with the London Charter provided the legal basis for the trial of Germany’s leaders at Nuremburg after the Second World War.

ARTICLE I  The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II  The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

Read the full text of The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War 1928 (The Kellogg-Briand Pact) here (opens in new window)

Comment
The main purpose of this treaty was to outlaw warfare as a method of conducting international affairs.  The horrifying effects of the First World War in which millions were killed and maimed had convinced public opinion that such a war must never happen again.  It was no longer acceptable for civilised nations to use armed force to achieve their objectives.  Although the terms of this treaty were crystal clear, it included no enforcement method or punishment for those who violated it.  Later this loophole in law enforcement enabled the leaders of Germany, Italy and Japan to initiate what was to become the Second World War in which nearly twenty million people were killed.     

Fortunately for the rule of law, President Roosevelt refused to bow to the demands of Churchill and Stalin for the summary executions of the Axis nations’ leaders, and insisted on holding them to account for their crimes in court.  As a result Germany’s leaders were convicted of waging wars of aggression in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials in 1946.

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The United Nations Charter

The United Nations Charter sets out to prevent war and promote peace, justice and the rule of law throughout the world.  Its articles clearly prohibit the use of armed force:

2.3    All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered.

2.4    All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

41 The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon members of the United Nations to apply such measures.  These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

42. Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 prove to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.  Such action may include demonstrations, blockade and other operations by air, sea, or land forces.

Download The United Nations Charter (pdf)

Comment
The main legal principles in the UN Charter relating to warfare are that (1) International disputes must be settled by peaceful means, (2) Member States must never threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, (3) The Security Council must keep the peace and may not use armed force, (4) The only legal use of armed force is individual or collective self defence.

As the United Nations does not possess a law enforcement body it cannot enforce its rules on its members, especially the permanent members of the Security Council.  Member States are therefore responsible for policing their own actions and holding their own representatives to account for breaches of the rules.  The British and American Governments are amongst the worst in breaching the UN Charter and interpreting the rules to suit themselves.  The latest example of British Government duplicity was the false claim that the 2003 Iraq war was authorised by UN Security Council resolutions 678, 687 and 1441.  The Security Council can never authorise the use of armed force and must always adopt a peacekeeping approach.  By invading and occupying Iraq and killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians, America, Britain and their Coalition allies violated the rule that disputes must be settled peacefully and breached the prohibition on the threat or use of force.

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The Nuremburg Judgement

As the world’s first major war crimes trial, the Nuremburg Tribunal confirmed the principles and tenets that now form the bases of customary international war law.  Germany’s leaders were convicted in 1946 of crimes against peace and humanity for waging wars of aggression against eleven nation states in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  The judgement highlighted the principles governing conflict between nations, and the responsibilities of individuals in preventing war.  

“After the signing of the Pact, any nation resorting to war as an instrument of national policy breaks the Pact.  In the opinion of the Tribunal, the solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involves the proposition that such war is illegal in international law; and that those who plan and wage such a war with its inevitable and terrible consequences are committing a crime in so doing...

It was submitted [by the defendants] that international law is concerned with the action of sovereign states, and provides no punishment for individuals; and further, that where the act in question is an act of state, those who carry it out are not personally responsible, but are protected by the doctrine of the sovereignty of the State.  In the opinion of the Tribunal, both these submissions must be rejected.  That international law imposes duties and liabilities upon individuals as well as upon States has long been recognised…

The very essence of the [
London] Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State.  He who violates the laws of war cannot obtain immunity while acting in pursuance of the authority of the State, if the State in authorising action moves outside its competence under international law…
 
That a soldier was ordered to kill or torture in violation of the international law of war has never been recognised as a defence to such acts of brutality, though, as the Charter here provides, the order may be urged in mitigation of the punishment.  The true test, which is found in varying degrees in the criminal law of most nations, is not the existence of the order, but whether moral choice was in fact possible…"

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Comment
The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal was the first occasion in modern history when political leaders were held to account for their crimes in a court of law.  The essence of the trials was that individual leaders and officials could not shelter behind their duty to the state, when the state was in breach of international law.  As Germany had ratified the Kellogg-Briand Pact, its leaders, by breaching the Pact, had committed serious crimes for which they were personally responsible and for which they were convicted and punished.  

The Nuremburg trials are important in that they provide the first example of the rule of international war law in action and the judgment gave a lucid account of the laws against war and the principles which underpin relations between states.  The International Law Commission used the Nuremburg judgment as the basis for the statutory laws against war agreed in 1950 by the UN General Assembly which were entitled the Nuremburg Principles in recognition of their source.   

The single most important development derived from the Nuremburg judgment is the focus on the responsibility of the individual in matters of international warfare.  Individuals who start, support, condone or take part in a war are criminally liable for the resulting deaths and injuries and are to be held to account for their crimes in court.  Historically national leaders such as Kaiser Wilhelm or Napoleon Bonaparte who were responsible for waging wars causing the deaths of millions had escaped the ultimate penalty for their crimes.  The Nuremburg judgement made it clear that not only could Heads of State be indicted, tried and convicted as war criminals, but so too could all those individuals who were responsible for planning, supporting, condoning, funding or taking part in a war of aggression.  

The main legal principle derived from Nuremburg is that every citizen has a duty to humankind to exercise a moral choice and to take action to prevent their leaders and governments from violating the laws of war and waging a war of aggression.

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The Nuremburg Principles

These are the seven fundamental principles of international war law derived from the Nuremburg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals by the International Law Commission which were adopted as statute war law by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950.   

I.  Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

II. The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

III. The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

IV. The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

V.  Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

VI. The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
 
     (a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

(b) War crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

(c) Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

VII. Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

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The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

In July 1998 Britain became a founding signatory to the inter-governmental treaty known as the Rome Statute.  This treaty set up the world’s first permanent international criminal court in The Hague, and ceded ultimate jurisdiction over the universal crimes of ‘genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes’ to the Court.  This new system of international criminal law came into force in July 2002 when Australia became the sixtieth state to ratify the treaty, and for the first time in 1600 years every British citizen or resident became subject to international criminal law and an external law enforcement authority.

25.(3)  In accordance with this Statute, a person shall be criminally responsible and liable for punishment for a crime [genocide, a crime against humanity and a war crime] within the jurisdiction of the Court if that person:

(a)  Commits such a crime, whether as an individual, jointly with another or through another person, regardless of whether that other person is criminally responsible;
(b)  Orders, solicits or induces the commission of such a crime which in fact occurs or is attempted;
(c)  For the purpose of facilitating the commission of such a crime, aids, abets or otherwise assists in its commission or its attempted commission, including providing the means for its commission;
In any other way contributes to the commission or attempted commission of such a crime by a group of persons acting with a common purpose…

27.(1)  This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity.   In particular, official capacity as a Head of State, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.    

Comment
This treaty is the culmination of fifty years of efforts by the world community to introduce an international system of war law enforcement.  As wars are started by political leaders and never by a nation’s citizens, it was held to be essential that the world possessed law enforcement processes strong enough to hold the most powerful leaders to account for their war crimes in court.  Although to date the USA has refused to ratify this treaty, 105 nations have done so, making it the most important treaty against warfare and the mistreatment of human beings yet devised.  As this is the first attempt to set up a system designed to hold world leaders to account for their war crimes, it behooves us all to do everything in our power to support its operation and compel political, civil and military leaders to pursue the interests of humanity rather than the illusory and limited benefits of wealth, power and world domination.

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DOMESTIC
UK LAW


The International Criminal Court Act 2001

Britain’s Parliament ratified the Rome Statute by enacting The International Criminal Court Act 2001.  This new law incorporated the crimes of ‘genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes’ into UK criminal law whilst ceding ultimate authority over these crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  The Act holds that:

It is an offence against the law of England and Wales for a person to commit genocide, a crime against humanity or a war crime, or to engage in conduct ancillary to such an act.  This applies to acts committed in England or Wales or outside the United Kingdom by a UK national, resident or person subject to UK service jurisdiction. 

For the purposes of this Statute “Genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

For the purposes of this Statute “Crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; torture; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; enforced disappearance of persons; the crime of apartheid; other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

(a) “Attack directed against any civilian population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;

(b) “Extermination” includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;

(c) “Enslavement” means the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children;

 (d) “Deportation or forcible transfer of population” means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law;

(e) “Torture” means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

(f) “Forced pregnancy” means the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying out other grave violations of international law;

 (g) “Persecution” means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity;

(h) “The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime;

(i) “Enforced disappearance of persons” means the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time. 

3. For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term “gender” refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society.  The term “gender” does not indicate any meaning different from the above.
 
For the purposes of this Statute “war crimes” means:
 
(a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:

 (i) Wilful killing;
(ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;
(iii) Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;
(iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
(v) Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power;
(vi) Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;
(vii) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;
(viii) Taking of hostages.

(b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
(ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;
(iii) Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict;
(iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
(v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;
(vi) Killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;
(vii) Making improper use of a flag of truce, or of the flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy or of the United Nations, as well as of the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions, resulting in death or serious personal injury;
(viii) The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory;
(ix) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
(x) Subjecting persons who are in the power of an adverse party to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are neither justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the person concerned nor carried out in his or her interest, and which cause death to or seriously endanger the health of such person or persons;
(xi) Killing or wounding treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;
(xii) Declaring that no quarter will be given;
(xiii) Destroying or seizing the enemy’s property unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;
(xiv) Declaring abolished, suspended or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party;
(xv) Compelling the nationals of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the belligerent’s service before the commencement of the war;
(xvi) Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault; (xvii) Employing poison or poisoned weapons;
(xviii) Employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices;
(xix) Employing bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions; .......
(xxi) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(xxii) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy as defined in article 7, paragraph 2(f), enforced sterilisation, or any other form of sexual violence also constituting a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions;
(xxiii) Utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations;
(xxiv) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law;
(xxv) Intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions;
(xxvi) Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.

(c) In the case of an armed conflict not of an international character, serious violations of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts committed against persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause:

(i) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(ii) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(iii) Taking of hostages;
(iv) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognised as indispensable.

(d) Paragraph 2(c) applies to armed conflicts not of an international character and thus does not apply to situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature.

(e) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
(ii) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law;
(iii) Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict;
(iv) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
(v) Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault;
(vi) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2(f), enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence also constituting a serious violation of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions;
(vii) Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities;
(viii) Ordering the displacement of the civilian population for reasons related to the conflict, unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand;
(ix) Killing or wounding treacherously a combatant adversary; (x) Declaring that no quarter will be given;
(xi) Subjecting persons who are in the power of another party to the conflict to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are neither justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the person concerned nor carried out in his or her interest, and which cause death to or seriously endanger the health of such person or persons;
(xii) Destroying or seizing the property of an adversary unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of the conflict.

(f) Paragraph 2(e) applies to armed conflicts not of an international character and thus does not apply to situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature.  It applies to armed conflicts that take place in the territory of a State when there is protracted armed conflict between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups.

“Conduct ancillary” means: aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of an offence, inciting a person to commit an offence, attempting or conspiring to commit an offence, assisting an offender or concealing the offence.

A person is regarded as committing such an act or crime if the material elements are committed with intent and knowledge.  A person has ‘intent’ where he means to engage in the conduct or where he means to cause the consequence or where he is aware that it will occur in the ordinary course of events.  ‘Knowledge’ means awareness that circumstances exist or will occur in the ordinary course of events.
 

Implications
For the first time in English law we have an Act of Parliament that takes precedence over the Royal Prerogative and binds the Crown and everyone in the public service of the Crown.  By enacting this war law, Parliament blocked the legal loopholes that have enabled past British leaders to commit war crimes with impunity.  Criminal responsibility for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes now lies with those who commit them, those who commission them and those who condone or support them, and all such persons can be held to account for these crimes in court.   

Article 25 of the Rome Statute and sections 51 and 52 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001 not only place criminal responsibility for the deaths caused by war on the Monarch, the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet, senior civil servants, MPs and the military commanders responsible for commissioning acts of war; but equally place criminal responsibility on the servicemen and women, arms manufacturers, suppliers and taxpayers who aid, abet, incite or facilitate the commission of these crimes.  No longer can individuals evade joint responsibility for crimes committed by our political leaders.  

All military personnel, taxpayers and ordinary citizens who support, obey or condone the orders of their government or Parliament to wage aggressive war in which people are killed, are not only criminally liable for a crime against peace under the Nuremburg Principles, but under this new legislation they become accessories to the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and render themselves liable to prosecution in Britain or The Hague.   

It is a common error in Britain to believe that the law is different or somehow suspended in times of war.  This is not the case.  That the nation is at war provides no legal protection, excuse or defence to these crimes.  This means that since 2002, if one or more persons is injured or killed through the deliberate action of Britain’s military forces against a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, then a crime of genocide has been committed and those responsible for it are criminally liable and may be indicted and tried for the offence.  So for example if an RAF officer under orders fires a rocket or drops a bomb that causes death or injury to men, women and children in Iraq, then he or she together with the political, civil and military commanders who commissioned the bombing can be charged with a war crime.  If any member of HM armed forces intentionally kills or injures one or more persons who are members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as part of a widespread or systematic attack on that group, then both the individual killer and all those in the chain of command responsible for giving the orders to attack, are criminally responsible for the crimes of ‘genocide’ or ‘conduct ancillary to genocide’.

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The principle of international law, which under certain circumstances protects the representatives of a state, cannot be applied to acts which are condemned as criminal by international law.  The authors of these facts cannot shelter themselves behind their official position in order to be freed from punishment in appropriate proceedings -- Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal


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