Dec. 45 |
more than a measure of vengeance, subtly concealed in the garb of judicial proceedings which the victor wreaks upon the vanquished These things may sound plausible yet they are not true. It is, indeed, not necessary to doubt that some aspects of the Charter bear upon them the imprint of significant and salutary novelty. But it is our submission and our conviction, which we affirm before this Tribunal and the world, that fundamentally the provision of the Charter which constitutes wars, such wars as these defendants joined in waging and in planning a crime, is not in any way an innovation. This provision of the Charter does no more than constitute a competent jurisdiction for the punishment of what not only the enlightened conscience of mankind but the law of nations itself had constituted an international crime before this Tribunal was established and this Charter became part of the public law of the world.
So first let this be said:
Whilst it may be quite true that there is no body of international rules amounting to law in the Austinian sense of a rule imposed by a sovereign upon a subject obliged to obey it under some definite sanction, yet for 50 years or more the people of the world, striving perhaps after that ideal of which the poet speaks:
sought to create an operative system of rules based upon the consent of nations to stabilize international relations, to avoid war taking place at all and to mitigate the results of such wars as took place. The first treaty was of course the Hague Convention of 1899 for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. That Convention was, indeed, of no more than precatory effect, and we attach no weight to it for the purposes of this case, but it did establish agreement that, in the event of serious disputes arising between the signatory powers, they would as far as possible submit to mediation That Convention was followed in 1907 by another convention reaffirming and slightly strengthening what had previously been agreed. These early conventions fell, indeed, very far short of outlawing war, or of creating any binding obligation to arbitrate I shall certainly not ask the Tribunal to say any crime was committed by disregarding those conventions."When the war drums throb no longer
But at least they established that the contracting powers accepted the general principle that, if at all possible, war should be resorted to only if mediation failed.
Although these conventions are mentioned in this Indictment I am not relying on them save to show the historical development
Last modified: October 10, 1998