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Attribution

This ResearchGuide was made substantially from a template provided by Elizabeth Well, Oxford University (International Criminal Law).

International Criminal Law: An Overview

"Most legal scholars agree that a recognizable body of international criminal law does exist. However, the precise parameters of this body of law are often unclear, perhaps due to the rapid and complex developments of our global society. In its widest context, the source of international criminal law might be derived from the general principles of international law recognized by civilized nations; and therefore, found in the customary law accepted by states, the general criminal law recognized by nations, and the treaties which govern particular conduct.

International criminal law can also be categorized according to whether the conduct in question is international, constituting an offense against the world community, or whether the act is transnational, affecting the interests of more than one state. For example, international crime would encompass acts that threaten world order and security, crimes against humanity and fundamental human rights, war crimes, and genocide; whereas the transnational crime category would include drug trafficking, transborder organized criminal activity, counterfeiting, money laundering, financial crimes, terrorism, and willful damage to the environment." - From the American Society of International Law (ASIL).

Below are a sample of some electronic resources which should be particularly useful when studying this area of law

  • Amnesty International's Universal Jurisdiction: A Preliminary Survey of Legislation Around the World:  Icon
    Free resource. (2011).130 page pdf. "Universal jurisdiction, an essential tool of international justice, is the ability of the court of any state to try persons for crimes committed outside its territory that are not linked to the state by the
    nationality of the suspect or the victims or by harm to the state’s own national interests ... this preliminary survey by Amnesty International .. is designed to assist the Sixth [Legal] Committee of the UN General Assembly in its discussions.
  • Universal Jurisdiction.org  Icon
    Free resource. A project of the Aegis Trust to provide resources to facilitate the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Amnesty International's guide to terms in international criminal law  Icon  Icon
    The concept of “crimes against humanity” dates to the mid–nineteenth century, but the first list of such crimes was not integrated into an international document until the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945. Today, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court distinguishes ordinary crimes from crimes against humanity as acts, such as murder, which have been “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack,” “directed against a civilian population,” and committed according to “a state or organizational policy.”
  • World Justice Information Network (WJIN)  Icon
    WJIN is designed to be an independent global research forum for information on crime, justice and the rule of law. The system, which is supported and administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/), builds upon its predecessor, the United Nations Online Crime and Justice Clearinghouse (UNOJUST), and works in close cooperation with the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network (UNCJIN). It serves as a central point of access to a global virtual library containing thousands of professional publications and is a worldwide criminal justice news monitoring tool.
  • Justice Information Center, National Criminal Justice Reference Service  Icon
    This information clearinghouse, an information service of the NCJRS (http://www.ncjrs.gov/), "is one of the most extensive sources of information on criminal and juvenile justice in the world." It is divided into sections covering corrections, courts, crime prevention, criminal justice statistics, drugs, international information, juvenile justice, law enforcement, research and evaluation, victims, and current highlights.
  • Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL)  Icon
    In June 2003, the American Society of International Law (ASIL) opened for preview a selection of prototype sections of EISIL: on human rights, economic, environmental and criminal law, as well as some general international law resources. EISIL links to primary documents, such as treaties and other international instruments. Additional information is provided on each instrument, including print citations and relevant dates. EISIL also guides users to the "best sites" for certain topical areas or kinds of research and provides links to recommended research guides that assist researchers in exploring their topics of interest more widely. The database is browseable through a broad framework of subject areas as well as searchable using a targeted search engine.

Locating Treaties

  • United Nations Treaty Collection  
      
      Icon
    The United Nations has been the forerunner in undertaking actions to combat international crime in all of its forms. Major UN treaties and conventions include the UN Charter and conventions on apartheid, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, torture, narcotic drugs, slavery, the taking of hostages, aircraft hijacking, and terrorism. Researchers can search for the text of a treaty in theUnited Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) or for unpublished treaties in Recently Deposited Multilateral Treaties or for the status of a treaty in Status of Multilateral Treaties deposited with the Secretary-General .
  • Council of Europe: European Treaties  Icon
    Provides the text of the Statute of the Council of Europe, as well as signatures and ratifications. A Complete list of the Council of Europe's Treaties is arranged chronologically by ETS number. Selected treaties covering Human Rights and Penal Law are highlighted below:
  • European Union Website  Icon
    This is an umbrella site for all of the Union's institutions and organizations. It includes the text of EU founding treaties, policies, institutional documents, press releases and gateways to CELEX and SCAD, which index EU documents, reports and articles.
  • Organization of American States (OAS)  Icon
    The Inter-American Treaties database is an extensive collection of OAS treaties and agreements, including ratification and status information. Treaties can be searched by subject or year. The database can be reached via the OAS home page by clicking on Documents, then Treaties and Conventions.
  • Heinonline  Icon  Icon
    Check out the following collections that WFU subscribes to via Heinoline: (1) Foreign & International Law Resources Database (2) Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) (3) Treaties and Agreements Library (4) United Nations Law Collection (5) World Constitutions Illustrated and (6) World Trials Library
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