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Weiss, Thomas G., Plesch, Dan and Owen, Leah (2016) 'The UN War Crimes Commission and International Law: Revisiting World War II Precedents and Practice.' In: Ziccardi Capaldo, Giuliana, (ed.), Global Community: Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence 2015. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 71-109.

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The history of international legal institutions has largely ignored the early activities of the United Nations, specifically of the UN War Crimes Commission (UNWCC). Based on an assessment of its work and with access to new archival evidence, contemporary international legal institutional design could benefit significantly from revisiting the commission’s achievements, particularly the principle of complementarity identified in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and support for domestic tribunals for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The article begins by examining the history, multilateral basis for, and practical activities of the commission. Subsequently, it assesses its contemporary relevance. Finally, it analyses—with reference to modern literature on complementarity—the degree to which the commission’s wartime model provides positive examples of implementation of the principle that could be replicated today, with particular reference to domestic capacity-building and international coordination.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: International Criminal Court, complementarity, war crimes, crimes against humanity, international organisations, United Nations, legal capacity-building
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for International Studies & Diplomacy
ISBN: 9780190647759
Copyright Statement: © Oxford University Press 2016. This is the accepted manuscript of a chapter published by Oxford University Press in Global Community: Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence 2015, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 12:31

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