Crimes Against Humanity in International Criminal Law

Document Type


Publication Date

January 1999


In this revised edition, Professor Bassiouni persuasively establishes the legal validity of the Nuremberg Charter and describes the evolution of crimes against humanity from 1945 to the 1998 ICC Statute. The books comprehensive historical and legal analysis starts with the origins of this crime in the international regulation of armed conflicts and covers the Nuremberg, Tokyo and Allied Prosecutions after World War II, and subsequent national prosecutions, as well as the Statutes of the ICTY, ICTR and their jurisprudence, and the Statute of the ICC. The Nuremberg Charter first established crimes against humanity in positive international criminal law, but it raised lingering legal issues. The book examines the ten different international legal formulations which were developed at that time, particularly their overlap with genocide and war crimes, and sorts out the confusion regarding the legal characteristics of this crime.The meticulous and thorough analysis of all relevant legal issues, many of which are not covered elsewhere, includes: principles of legality, criminal responsibility for decision-makers and others, command responsibility, obedience to superior orders and other defences, specific contents and their counterpart in national laws, policy considerations, and the applicability of this crime to non-State actors. The wealth of information and detailed discussion of international and national prosecutions and their failures make a compelling case for more effective enforcement in the future. The author brings to this book his well-known scholarship and unique practical experiences as Chairman of the UN Commission that investigated these crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and as Chairman of the ICCs Drafting Committee in Rome. The breadth and depth of this exhaustively documented book makes it the definitive authority on crimes against humanity.