African Journal of International Criminal Justice

Article

Defining Crimes Against Humanity

Practicality and Value Balancing

Keywords crimes against humanity, Rome Statute, Draft Articles, state sovereignty
Authors Margaret M. deGuzman
Author's information

381563 Margaret M. deGuzman
Professor Margaret M. deGuzman is James E. Beasley Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
  • Abstract

      Since crimes against humanity were first defined in the Charters of the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and for the Far East, various international, hybrid and national institutions have adopted definitions that differ in important respects. The International Law Commission’s draft articles are the latest definition, using language that is almost identical to the definition in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This article explains that decision, as well as the few divergences between the draft articles and the Statute. Defining crimes against humanity involves balancing the value of respecting state sovereignty against that of protecting human rights, and the values of consistency and clarity against those of breadth and flexibility. It argues that in adopting the draft articles, states will affirm the balance among these values that was struck in Rome, but that both definitions contain sufficient flexibility to permit new balances to be found as global values evolve.

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