What does the law, and particularly international law, understand under the very general and sometimes loosely used heading of “war crimes”? Under the charter of the International Military Tribunal after World War II, three categories can be distinguished.
• The first and most traditional is the category properly called “war crimes.” It covers battlefield crimes committed either by using weapons that shouldn’t be used or shouldn’t be used in a certain way, and crimes committed against the civilian population. This is not a new category.
• Newer indeed is the second category created by the charter, which covers the crime of war itself or the crime of aggression. It is based on the various limitations on the aggressive use of force which the League of Nations and the UN charters have consecrated. This category is quite separate from that of battlefield crimes committed directly by the military in command and, indirectly, by the mil...
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