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Criminal Courts

International Criminal Courts

Atrocities of World War II such as the death camps in Nazi Germany raised the issue of creating an international criminal system in the late 1940s. The United Nations created the Genocide Convention, which in turn established genocide as an international crime. It was illegal to destroy a group of people based on national, ethnic, religious, or racial criteria.

During the Cold War, however, interest in international war crimes declined until ethnic-based killings occurred in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The UN Security Council established a court or tribunal to try Yugoslavian war crimes. In 1994 it created another court to prosecute those involved in mass killings in Rwanda, Africa. These tribunals increased the debate once again about establishing a permanent world court, rather than creating new tribunals whenever a crisis occurred.

In 1998 over one hundred members of the United Nations approved the new International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was to be located in The Hague, Netherlands. The process to ratify or approve the ICC by a required number of nations ran into the early twenty-first century. The court was originally supposed to have criminal jurisdiction over genocide (the attempt to kill or wipe out an entire ethnic group), crimes against humanity, serious war crimes, and other undefined criminal aggression.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawCriminal Courts - Early American Courts, The Constitution And The Courts, Creating A National Court System, Federal Courts - Special state courts