International legal movements against war crimes, terrorism, and genocide, 1919-1948 / Mark Alan Lewis.
This dissertation investigates a fundamental transformation that began with World War One: the application of domestic institutions of prosecution and punishment to the international level. Historians have studied the history of war crimes trials and certain international conventions, but they have not explained the development of a legal-political system that was supposed to protect states and citizens from different types of political and social violence. Why was the idea of an international criminal court proposed for acts as diverse as war, war crimes, terrorism, and genocide?The dissertation analyzes the negotiation of penalty clauses in the Versailles Treaty, proposals for international criminal courts in the 1920s, the 1937 Convention for the Repression and Punishment of International Terrorism, the first Nuremberg Trial, and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide of 1948. Using institutional archives and jurists' papers, this dissertation shows that the concept of a court and new international criminal laws were stimulated by World Wars One and Two, the repeated breakdown in the European state system, new forms of warfare, and the rise of native fascist and Nazi movements. But they were also catalyzed by other developments: a trend to complete the international system with a criminal court, a moral turn toward individual responsibility, and the rise of the idea that groups, rather than individuals, needed to be protected against certain types of nation-states.Multiple networks and organizations developed international criminal law. Lawyers such as Vespasien Pella, Raphael Lemkin, and Jacob Robinson had diverse motives: nationalism, humanitarianism, retribution, prevention, universalism, and particularism. Great Power support was an important factor in determining whether projects succeeded or failed, but there were other factors. Jurists were more likely to succeed when they accommodated large and small states' needs for sovereignty. Governments preferred projects aiming at single problems with great symbolic value, rather than new systems designed to govern international politics. Finally, the development of international criminal courts, new laws against war crimes, and international systems to protect human rights were not always part of the same historical trajectory in this period.
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