International criminal law

International criminal law is a relatively young but fast-developing area of law. It is a highly specialised division of public international law which saw its practical genesis in the work of the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War II.

The crimes that fall within the ambit of international criminal law are, classically, genocide (the intentional destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such), crimes against humanity (including murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, torture and rape when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population) and war crimes (including grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war). The sources can be found in international treaties, customary international law, international jurisprudence and academic writings.

International criminal law developed enormously with the establishment of the ad hoc UN international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and hybrid tribunals trying mass crimes committed in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, East Timor and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2002, the permanent International Criminal Court was founded in The Hague, Netherlands. Also based in The Hague are the Special Tribunal for Lebanon – the first international tribunal of its kind to try terrorism as a distinct crime – and the new Kosovo Specialist Chambers.

International criminal law operates at the frontier of law and geopolitics, human rights and war. These cases are among the most complex and complicated a barrister can undertake. They require expertise, dedication, passion and patience, all of which can be provided by the highly experienced practitioners at 1MCB.