Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Crime against humanity

A crime against humanity is an act of persecution against a group, so heinous as to warrant punishment under international law. The term was first used in the preamble of the Hague Convention of 1907, and subsequently used during the Nuremberg trials as a charge for actions such as the Holocaust which did not violate a specific treaty but were deemed to require punishment.

The term has been criticized for being extremely vague and for being politically defined. For example, Nazi attempts to eliminate certain ethnic groups were treated as crimes against humanity, yet Soviet attempts to eliminate certain economic groups were not.

In its Article 7, the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court says:

For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; ... [1]

See also: Genocide, mass murder, war crime, crime against peace, state terrorism, ethnic cleansing and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

External link