LW397 International Criminal Law Assignment Example Maynooth University Ireland
In this module, we’ll explore the field of international criminal law. We will study the history of international criminal responsibility and analyze how it has developed over time. In particular, it focuses on how the international community has reacted to atrocity crimes in terms of prosecution and sentencing. We’ll specifically focus on international prosecutions since the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. We’ll also look at the development of ad hoc and hybrid tribunals and courts. And finally, we’ll explore the creation and practice of the ICC.
The international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war are all analyzed in this module. These specific types of atrocities will be discussed with a focus on modes of liability and sentencing for each crime committed under these categories. This module provides an in-depth understanding of the legal framework for atrocity crimes. It includes academic commentary and practice based on tribunal cases and judgments.
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On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
Assignment Activity 1: Critically analyze the history and development of international criminal law
International criminal law is a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of international relations. The dominant paradigm for understanding these legal concepts, which are applied to acts committed by individuals and governments alike across national boundaries with varying degrees of severity depending on individual circumstances, started developing after World War II when large-scale atrocities began occurring at unprecedented scales around the world as populations were growing exponentially while technologies advanced rapidly alongside it all.
The first successful attempt at holding individuals criminally responsible for their actions on an international scale was the trial of the major Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, Germany 1945-1946. This prosecution set several important precedents, including the development of international criminal law as its field, and the establishment of principles such as individual criminal responsibility, the legality of the war, and the prohibition of genocide.
Since then, international criminal law has continued to develop, with several important treaties and conventions being ratified, and various tribunals and courts being established to try those accused of atrocity crimes.
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Assignment Activity 2: Assess the nature and scope of atrocity crimes
Atrocity crimes are typically defined as serious violations of international humanitarian law, which include genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. However, the definition of what specifically constitutes an atrocity crime can vary depending on the context and the specific legal framework being used.
- Genocide is the most severe of all atrocity crimes and is defined as the intentional commission of certain acts with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
- Crimes against humanity are also grave violations of international humanitarian law, but they can be committed without any specific genocidal intent. They generally include offenses such as murder, torture, rape, and enslavement.
- War crimes are similar to crimes against humanity but are specifically committed during times of armed conflict. They can include things like murder, torture, pillage, and rape.
Assignment Activity 3: Evaluate the successes and failures of the international criminal law project, concerning jurisprudence and academic commentary
The history of international criminal law has been fraught with both successes and failures. The prosecutions at Nuremberg were a major success, establishing several important precedents and setting the stage for future development of the field. However, subsequent attempts to try individuals accused of atrocity crimes have met with more mixed results.
Some of the tribunals established in the wake of World War II, such as the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the Tokyo Trials, were fairly successful in bringing those responsible for atrocity crimes to justice. However, other tribunals, such as the ICTY and the ICTR, have been criticized for their numerous flaws, such as lack of fairness and due process, political interference, and corruption.
More recently, the establishment of the International Criminal Court has been seen as a major success for international criminal law. However, the Court has also faced criticism over its various shortcomings, such as its limited jurisdiction and lack of enforcement power.
Overall, the successes and failures of international criminal law have been the subject of much debate and commentary among academics and jurists. While there have been some notable successes, there have also been several significant failures that need to be addressed to make international criminal law more effective.
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Assignment Activity 4: Appreciate how international crimes can be prosecuted domestically
While the primary focus of international criminal law is on prosecuting crimes that are committed on an international scale, it is also possible for these crimes to be prosecuted domestically. In some cases, a country will have its domestic criminal code that covers atrocity crimes, and in other cases, the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law will be incorporated into the national criminal code.
Prosecutions for atrocity crimes can be complex and often require cooperation between different national authorities. However, domestic prosecutions can be an important way of ensuring that those responsible for atrocity crimes are held accountable for their actions.
Assignment Activity 5: Apply the international criminal law framework to theoretical scenarios, as well as real-life situations
The international criminal law framework can be applied to a variety of theoretical scenarios, as well as real-life situations. For example, imagine that a group of armed rebels takes over a small town in Ireland and begins massacring the local population. This could be considered an atrocity crime, and the rebels could be prosecuted under the relevant provisions of international criminal law.
Alternatively, imagine that there is a genocide taking place in Rwanda and Irish soldiers are deployed to help with the humanitarian relief effort. If they witness any crimes being committed, they would be obliged to report them to their superiors and could potentially be involved in subsequent prosecutions.
Finally, consider the case of Charles Taylor, who was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone of several atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. This case provides a good example of how the international criminal law framework can be applied in a real-life situation.
Assignment Activity 6: Demonstrate an appreciation of challenges to the international criminal law framework
The international criminal law framework is not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that it is often difficult to get those responsible for atrocity crimes to be held accountable. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as lack of jurisdiction, political interference, and corruption.
Another challenge is the fact that the international criminal law framework is constantly evolving. This makes it difficult to achieve consensus on how best to deal with atrocity crimes, and it also means that the law is not always able to keep up with changing realities on the ground.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges facing international criminal law is its lack of enforcement power. This means that there is no mechanism for ensuring that those who are convicted by international tribunals serve their sentences. The international criminal law framework has been criticized for being more concerned with establishing guilt than punishing those deemed to be guilty of an atrocity crime.
Assignment Activity 7: Develop clear, rationale, and well supported legal arguments in respect of atrocity crimes, concerning legal provisions, jurisprudence, and academic commentary
Atrocity crimes are among the most heinous offenses that can be committed. They often involve grave violations of human rights and can have a devastating impact on communities and individuals.
The international criminal law framework is designed to deal with such offenses. It provides a mechanism for prosecuting those responsible for atrocity crimes, regardless of where they are located.
The international criminal law framework is based on several key legal provisions, such as the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute. These provisions provide a clear and concise set of rules for dealing with atrocity crimes.
In addition, the international criminal law framework is supported by a wealth of jurisprudence and commentary. This provides a further measure of coherency and consistency, as well as valuable insights into the practicalities of bringing those responsible for atrocity crimes to justice.
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