Crimes Against Humanity: The History, Examples, and Cases

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Crimes against humanity are some of the worst atrocities that can be committed. They are crimes that are often considered to be against the entire human race, and they carry severe penalties.

This article will discuss crimes against humanity, give some examples, and look at how they are handled internationally. We will also examine the definition of crimes against humanity under international law.

What are crimes against humanity?

Crimes against humanity are defined as “certain acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.” This can include conduct involving several different crimes and other forms of violence.

  • The term “widespread or systematic” means that the crimes were mainly committed as part of a state or organizational policy. “Widespread Attack” indicates that the crimes were committed to harm civilians.
  • The concept of crimes against humanity has evolved, and there is still much debate about what acts should be considered as falling within this category.

However, there is general agreement that these are some of the most serious international crimes that can be committed and that those responsible should be held accountable.


The term was first used in the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, which included it as part of the definition of crimes against peace. Crimes against humanity are now codified in many jurisdictions throughout the world.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines the following acts as crimes against humanity:

Murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; torture; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; enforced disappearance of persons; the crime of apartheid; other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or mental or physical health.

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Examples of crimes against humanity

Some examples of crimes against humanity include these specific criminal acts:

-The Holocaust:

The second world war saw many inhumane acts committed; Nazi Germany committed genocide of six million Jews. This is considered one of the worst cases of crimes against humanity in history.

In the aftermath, an international tribunal concluded the actions of the nazis constituted crimes against humanity, and they were convicted as war criminals.

-The Rwandan Genocide:

The Rwandan Genocide refers to the 1994 massacre of the Tutsi people in Rwanda by the Hutu majority. It is considered one of the worst inhuman acts committed in history, with 800,000 people killed.

-The Bosnian War:

During the early 1990s, Bosnian Serb forces carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims. The list of crimes committed during this armed conflict is long. But it includes sexual violence and other inhumane acts you don’t want to imagine.

There are many other examples of crimes against humanity that have been committed throughout history. These are just a few of the most well-known cases that are clear violations of international criminal law.

Is crimes against humanity a war crime?

While civilians generally commit crimes against humanity, most war crimes are committed against civilians and enemy soldiers.

Crime against humanity must be compelled in the context of statewide and systematic attacks against civilians; it’s not required in warfare.

Can the US be charged with crimes against humanity?

Yes, the United States could be charged with crimes against humanity. The international community has a responsibility to protect civilians from harm, and when a government fails to do so, it can be held accountable.

The United States has been accused of not doing enough to protect civilians in Syria, and there is evidence that war crimes have been committed. If the international community does not hold the United States accountable, it could set a dangerous precedent.

Domestic Law

Crimes against humanity aren’t only international crimes, and the U.S. Constitution provides that criminal prosecutions are considered possible crimes against humanity.

The penalty for war crimes

The penalty for war crimes may vary, depending on the severity of the crime. In some cases, the perpetrator may be imprisoned, while they may be executed in others.

Some may also be tried for capital offenses, resulting in a death sentence. Any war crimes case can be brought before an international law commission.

International criminal court

Customary international law recognizes crimes against humanity are typically prosecuted by international courts or tribunals.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent court established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The ICC has jurisdiction over 124 countries, and it can issue warrants for the arrest of suspected criminals.

Rome Statute

The Rome Statute is an international effort that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The treaty was adopted in 1998 and came into force in 2002.

The Rome Statute establishes the ICC as a permanent international court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and other inhumane acts.

  • The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems, and it may only exercise its jurisdiction when federal courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.
  • The Rome Statute authorizes the ICC to investigate and prosecute nationals of states that have ratified the treaty and individuals who have committed crimes on the territory of a state that has ratified the treaty.

The ICC does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed by individuals who are not nationals of a state that has ratified the treaty.

International criminal tribunal

The ICC is not the only international court that can hear cases of crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in 1993 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Yugoslav Wars.

The ICTY has issued indictments against 161 individuals, and it has convicted 80 people of various inhumane acts and crimes against humanity.

What Are International criminal tribunals?

The International Criminal Tribunal is a court that prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other severe violations of international humanitarian law.

The United Nations Security Council established the ICTY in 1993 in response to large-scale atrocities committed during the Yugoslav Wars.

The Tribunal is located in The Hague, Netherlands, and its mandate is to prosecute those responsible for severe violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia since 1991.

Fundamental rules

The International Criminal Tribunal comprises 18 judges appointed by the UN Secretary-General from a list of nominees submitted by states.

The judges serve for nine years and may be reappointed once. The Tribunal’s rules of procedure and evidence are modeled on those of the International Court of Justice.

  • The ICTY has a Prosecutor responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases before the Tribunal, and a team of Deputy Prosecutors assists the Prosecutor.
  • Voluntary contributions from UN member states fund the ICTY. Its budget for 2019 was $107 million.

The United Nations Security Council can also refer genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity to the ICC. This has happened in several instances, including the Darfur conflict in Sudan and the situation in Libya.

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Conviction of crimes against humanity

For genocide, there is no maximum sentence. Committing the same inhuman acts that result in serious injury to the person or their bodily and mental health.

Inhumane crimes can result in imprisonment for 30 years if found in restitution.

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Crimes against humanity are some of the most inhumane acts that a person can commit. They are often considered against the entire human race, and they can carry severe penalties.

This article discussed crimes against humanity, given some examples, and looked at how they are handled under international law.

We have also examined the definition of crimes against humanity under international law. If you have been accused of committing a crime against humanity, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights.


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