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Mr. Sean D. Murphy

Mr. Sean D. Murphy
Professor of International Law
George Washington University Law School
Member of the International Law Commission

Biography Biography in PDF format

Criminal Law and Procedure
International Crimes
Crimes against Humanity

Over the past century, the concept of “crimes against humanity” has emerged as one of the core crimes of international law. Because of their heinousness and magnitude, it is said that such crimes “constitute egregious attacks on human dignity, on the very notion of humaneness. They consequently affect, or should affect, each and every member of mankind, whatever his or her nationality, ethnic group and location.”

This five-part lecture provides general background with respect to the emergence of crimes against humanity as a concept of international law, including its progression from a crime associated with international armed conflict to a crime that can occur whenever there is a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population by means of certain heinous acts. Further, this lecture discusses the jurisdiction of contemporary international or special courts and tribunals over crimes against humanity, and the extent to which States have adopted national laws on such crimes. In particular, the lecture analyzes the core elements of the crime as stated in Article 7 of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), which refers to: a “widespread or systematic attack”; an attack “directed against any civilian population”; an attack “pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy”; a perpetrator who has “knowledge of the attack”; and an attack that occurs by means of specified acts, such as murder or torture. Among other things, this lecture highlights how contemporary case law of the ICC is refining and clarifying the meaning of such terms, relying to a degree on the jurisprudence of earlier tribunals.


Video | Audio
(59 minutes)
Criminal Law and Procedure
International Crimes
Crimes against Humanity
A. Legal Instruments

Convention (II) with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 29 July 1899.

Convention (III) relative to the Opening of Hostilities. The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (V) respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (VI) relating to the Status of Enemy Merchant Ships at the Outbreak of Hostilities, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (VII) relating to the Conversion of Merchant Ships into War-Ships. The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (VIII) relative to the Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines. The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (IX) concerning Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (XI) relative to certain Restrictions with regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Convention (XIII) concerning the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War, The Hague, 18 October 1907.

Treaty of Peace Between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, Versailles, 28 June 1919.

Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Annex to the Agreement for the prosecution and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis, London, 8 August 1945, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 82, p. 284.

Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Tokyo, 19 January 1946.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Paris, 9 December 1948, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 78, p. 277.

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 31.
Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of the Armed Forces at Sea, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 85.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 135.

Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 287.

Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity, New York, 26 November 1968, United Nations,  Treaty Series, vol. 754, p. 73.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 8 June 1977, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1125, p. 3.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 808 (1993) (S/25704), 3 May 1993.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Security Council resolution 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Rome, 17 July 1998, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2187, p. 3.

United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor Regulation 2000/15 On the establishment of panels with exclusive jurisdiction over serious criminal offences, 6 June 2000.

International Criminal Court, Elements of Crimes, Official Records of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, First session, New York, 3-10 September 2002.

Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (with inclusion of amendments as promulgated on 27 October 2004 NS/RKM/1004/006).

Statute for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, annexed to the Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, Freetown, 16 January 2002, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2178, p. 137.

B. Jurisprudence

International

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Duško Tadić, Judgment of 7 May 1997, Trial Chamber, IT-94-1-T.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, The Prosecutor v. Jean-Paul Akayesu, Trial Judgment, Judgment of 2 September 1998, Trial Chamber I, ICTR-96-4-T.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Dragoljub Kunarac, Judgment of 22 February 2001, Trial Chamber,  IT-96-23-T & IT-96-23/1-T.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Dario Kordić and Mario Čerkez, Judgment of 17 December 2004, Appeals Chamber, IT-95-14/2-A.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Fatmir Limaj et al, Judgment of 30 November 2005, Trial Chamber II, IT-03-66-T.

International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun ("Ahmad Harun") and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman ("Ali Kushayb"), Decision of 27 April 2007, Pre-Trial Chamber I, ICC-02/05-01/07.
http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/doc/doc279807.PDF

International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Decision of 15 June 2009, Pre-Trial chamber 2009, ICC-01/05-01/08.

International Criminal Court, Situation in the Republic of Kenya (‘Kenya Authorization Decision’), Decision of 31 March 2010, Trial Chamber II, ICC-01/09-19.

International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang, Decision of 23 January 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber II, ICC-01/09-01/11.

International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda, Decision of 13 July 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber II, ICC-01/04-02/06.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, The Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor, Judgment of 26 September 2013, Appeals Chamber, SCSL-03-01-A.

International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga (Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Judgment of 8 March 2014, Trial Chamber II, ICC-01/04-01/07.

National

Supreme Court of Israel, Adolf Eichmann v. The Attorney General, Criminal Appeal 336/61, 29 May 1962.

Supreme Court of the Netherlands, Menten case, 75 ILR 362-363, 1987.

Supreme Court (Criminal Law Chamber), France, The Prosecutor v Barbie, Case No, 87-84240, 3 June 1988.

Supreme Court (Criminal Law Chamber), France, France v Paul Trouvier, Case No. 92-82409, 27 November 1992.

Supreme Court of Israel, State of Israel v. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Case No. 347/88, 29 July 1993.

Supreme Court of Canada, R v. Imre Finta, Case No. 23023, 23097, 24 March 1994.

Supreme Court of Canada, Mugesera v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2005] 2 SCR. 100, 28 June 2005.

Superior Court (Criminal Division, Canada, R. v. Désiré Munyaneza, Case No. 500-73-002500-052, 22 may 2009.

C. Documents
D. Doctrine

A. J. Carrillo & A. K. Nelson, Comparative Law Study and Analysis of National
Legislation Relating to Crimes Against Humanity and Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, George Washington International Human Rights Clinic, July 2013.