Laws of War
Laws of War

Laws of War

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 7 (3371 words)
  • Published: March 27, 2019
Text preview

The term “laws of war” refers to the rules governing the actual conduct of armed conflict. This idea that there actually exists rules that govern war is a difficult concept to understand. The simple act of war in and of itself seems to be in violation of an almost universal law prohibiting one human being from killing another. But during times of war murder of the enemy is allowed, which leads one to the question, “if murder is permissible then what possible “laws of war” could there be?” The answer to this question can be found in the Charter established at the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo:
Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.1 The above excerpt comes form the Charter of the Tribunal Article 6 section C, which makes it quite clear that in general the “laws of war” are there to protect innocent civilians before and during war.

It seems to be a fair idea to have such rules gover


ning armed conflictin order to protect the civilians in the general location of such aconflict. But, when the conflict is over, and if war crimes have been committed, how then are criminals of war brought to justice? The
International Military Tribunals held after World War II in Nuremberg on 20 November 1945 and in Tokyo on 3 May 1946 are excellent examples of how such crimes of war are dealt with. (Roberts and Guelff 153-54) But, rather than elaborate on exact details of the Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo a more important matter must be dealt with. What happens when alleged criminals of war are unable to be apprehended and justly tried? Are they forgotten about, or are they sought after such as other criminals are in order to serve justice? What happens if these alleged violators are found residing somewhere other than where their pursuers want to bring them to justice? How does one go about legally obtaining the custody of one such suspect? Some of the answers to these questions can be found in an analysis of how Israel went about obtaining the custody of individuals that it thought to be guilty of Nazi War Crimes. Not only will one find some of the answers to the previously stated questions, but also one will gain an understanding
of one facet of international law and how it works.

Two cases in specific will be dealt with here. First, the extradition of Adolf Eichmann from Argentina, and second, the extradition of John Demjanjuk from the United States of America. These cases demonstrate two very different ways that Israel went about obtaining the custod

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay
View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

of these alleged criminals. The cases also expose the intricacy of International Law in matters of extradition. But, before we begin to examine each of these cases we must first establish Israel’s right to judicial processing of alleged Nazi war criminals.

To understand the complications involved in Israel placing suspected
Nazi war criminals on trial, lets review the history of Israel’s situation. During World War II the Nazis were persecuting Jews in their concentration camps. At this time the state of Israel did not exist. The ending of the war meant the ending of the persecution, and when the other countries discovered what the Nazis had done Military Tribunals quickly followed. Some of the accused war criminals were tried and sentenced, but others managed to escape judgement and thus became fugitives running from international law. Israel became a state, and thus, some of the Jews that survived the concentration camps moved to the state largely populated by people of Jewish ancestry. Israel felt a moral commitment because of its large Jewish population and set about searching for the fugitive Nazi war criminals.

The situation just described is only a basic overview of what
happened. The state of Israel views itself as the nation with the greatest moral jurisdiction for the trial of Nazi war criminals, and other states around the Globe agree with Israel’s claim. (Lubet and Reed 1) Former Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner was interested in confirming Israel as the place for bringing to justice all those suspected of genocide of Jews. Hausner sought to confirm Israel’s status by proposing to the United States that they extradite Bishop Valerian Trifa to Israel for trial as a war criminal. Israel was reluctant to support Hausner’s proposal, which resulted in delaying the extradition process and thus gave Trifa the time needed to find a country willing to give him residency. Portugal granted Trifa residency and thus Hausner’s proposal was in vain.

Israel, sometime after losing their opportunity of obtaining Trifa,
decided that Hausner’s idea of establishing Israel as the place to bring Nazi war criminals to trial was a good one, which lead them to seek the extradition of John Demjanjuk from the United States. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Israel’s request for the extradition of a suspected Nazi war criminal living in the U.S. . . appears to be a test case that could determine whether Israel pursues other suspects . . . The decision to seek the extradition of Mr. Demjanjuk follows months of negotiations between U.S. and Israel officials about specific cases and the broader question of whether Israel wanted to go through with extraditions requests . . . Gideon Hausner, who prosecuted Eichmann, said Israel’s decision to ask the U.S. to extradite Nazis for trial in Jerusalem is an important step. “This creates the opportunity for at least tacit admission of Israel’s special position with regard to crimes against Jews anywhere in the world,” he says.2
After much negotiations the United States arrested Demjanjuk in November of 1983. On April 15, 1985 United States District Judge Frank Battisti ruled in favor of Demjanjuk’s extradition. After the Sixth Court of Appeals affirmed Battisti’s ruling and

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay