4 Dec. 45

municipal law. Nor is the principle of individual international responsibility for offenses against the law of nations altogether new. It has been applied not only to pirates. ·The entire law relating to war crimes, as distinct from the crime of war, is based upon the principle of individual responsibility. The future of international law, and indeed, of the world itself, depends on its application in a much wider sphere, in particular, in that of safeguarding the peace of the world. There must be acknowledged not only, as in the Charter of the United Nations, fundamental human rights, but also, as in the Charter of this Tribunal, fundamental human duties, and of these none is more vital, none is more fundamental, than the duty not to vex the peace of nations in violation of the clearest legal prohibitions and undertakings. If this be an innovation, it is an innovation which we are prepared to defend and to justify, but it is not an innovation which creates a new crime. International law had already, before the Charter was adopted, constituted aggressive war a criminal act.

There is thus no substantial retroactivity in the provisions of the Charter. It merely fixes the responsibility for a crime already clearly established as such by positive law upon its actual perpetrators. It fills a gap in international criminal procedure. There is all the difference between saying to a man, "You will now be punished for what was not a crime at all at the time you committed it," and in saying to him, "You will now pay the penalty for conduct which was contrary to law and a crime when you executed it, although, owing to the imperfection of the international machinery, there was at that time no court competent to pronounce judgment against you." It is that latter course which we adopt, and if that be retroactivity, we proclaim it to be most fully consistent with that higher justice which, in the practice of civilized states, has set a definite limit to the retroactive operation of laws. Let the defendants and their protagonists complain that the Charter is in this matter an ex parte fiat of the victors. These victors, composing, as they do, the overwhelming majority of the nations of the world, represent also the world's sense of justice, which would be outraged if the crime of war, after this second world conflict, were to remain unpunished. In thus interpreting, declaring, and supplementing the existing law, these states are content to be judged by the verdict of history. Securus judicat orbis terrarum. Insofar as the Charter of this Tribunal introduces new law, its authors have established a precedent for the future — a precedent operative against all, including themselves, but in essence that law, rendering recourse to aggressive war an international crime, had been well established when the Charter was adopted. It is only by way of corruption of language that it can be described as a retroactive law.