War Crimes Research Guide
This guide is a starting point for your research on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
This guide is a starting point for your research on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
War Crimes Research Guide
World events have demonstrated that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are long term problems that have occurred throughout history and continue to this day. This guide is meant as a starting point for your research. War crimes research often delves into associated topics such as human rights, treaty research, and genocide. As such, this guide will sometimes refer you to other relevant research guides on our web site [complete listing] for more information.
The law library has many materials on war crimes and the titles below are meant only as a starting point. To locate more resources, search the online catalog (or try our NEW catalog interface) using keywords to narrow your search results. For example, <war crimes> or <genocide international law>.
- Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals INTL KZ6310 .A5 1999-
Starting with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and currently up to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, this not only reprints preliminary matters, procedural matters, as well as judgements, but includes annotations throughout with references to other relevant case law, procedures, treaties, reports and books.
- The Emerging Practice of the International Criminal Court INTL KZ6311 .E364 2009
This is a detailed and in-depth overview of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from its creation to some of the actual trials (both the process and procedural aspects). It also discuss what the future could hold for this court.
- The Law of Command Responsibility available online
While this book focuses on command responsibility, it does so through the wider lens of world conflict, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
- Law, War and Crime: War Crimes Trials and the Reinvention of International Law INTL KZ1168.5 .S56 2007
An overview of war crimes, throughout history and any subsequent trials, as part of larger questions about national law (or local law) and international law, as well as political and cultural influences. This book also includes a selected bibliography of books, PDF's , news stories, select case law (both foreign and international), official reports, statutes and treaties.
- Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence INTL JC571 .L5868 2010
This book examines the concepts of "justice", "law" (both national and international) and "transitions" and how they are actually applied in post violence areas through out the world (Central American, South East Asia) and in ongoing conflicts (Middle East).
- Transitional Justice: Global Mechanisms and Local Realities after Genocide and Mass Violence INTL JC571 .T6994 2010
This interdisciplinary book on transitional law throughout the world. This outlines both where transitional justice has failed and how it can help shape better policies and law.
- War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court INTL K5301 .B97 2009
Articles 7 (Crimes Against Humanity ) and Article 8 (War Crimes), of the Rome Statute, are annotated extensively, including brief legal histories, relevant case law and commentary.
War crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are governed by international treaties. Remember, treaties are referred to by many different names: conventions, protocols, accords, and covenants are just a few examples.
Some questions to consider when conducting treaty research include:
- Is there an applicable treaty?
- Is it in force?
- Has a particular country ratified the treaty?
- Has that country made any declarations or reservations?
- What is the citation and where is the full text?
You may wish to consult our Treaty Research Guide for more detailed information on conducting treaty research.
Although not an exhaustive list, these legal instruments are some of the key primary sources in the area of war crimes research. Additional primary documents can be found on EISIL's war crimes page. See the next section for information on citation assistance.
- Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone
This treaty between the U.N. and Sierra Leone defines the function of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Annexed to the Agreement is the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
- Genocide Convention In response to the Holocaust, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted this Convention in 1948. It declares genocide a crime under international law and requires states party to the convention to take measures to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.
- Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [PDF]
This treaty established the International Criminal Court.
- Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
This statute is the founding document of the ICTR. It defines the powers and jurisdiction of the court.
- Update Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the relevant U.N. resolutions
The original Statute established the ICTY and the Amended Version incorporates the Security Council resolutions that have amended the original ICTY Statute.
The texts of most major multilateral treaties are easy to locate online. The trick is finding the official Bluebook citation. EISIL, the international law database maintained by the American Society of International Law can help. If the treaty you are using is located in EISIL, then the "More Information" link under the main text link will provide you with citation information.
Finding bilateral and older versions multilateral treaties can be more difficult. For example locating in the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.) the U.S. declaration recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice 1 U.N.T.S. 9. This is when you might want to consult some of the larger online treaty collections or use a treaty index. Some of the best sources are listed below. For more detailed information on researching treaties, see our Treaty Research Guide.
Print and Online Sources
- EISIL (American Society of International Law)
Also has a list of conventions.
- HeinOnline: Treaties and Agreements Library (Georgetown Law Only)
Includes all U.S. treaties, whether currently in-force, expired, or not-yet officially published. Includes the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Bevans, Miller, Malloy and others.
- HeinOnline: United Nations Law Collection (Georgetown Law Only)
Select of major yearbooks, official records, and treaties from the U.N. and the League of Nations. For treaties you can search by citation.
- The Human Rights Library (University of Minnesota)
Offers a list of conventions on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and a list of law of armed conflict conventions.
- International Humanitarian Law Database (International Committee of the Red Cross)
Includes 100 treaties and other text, from 1856 to the present, both in full treaty text and by individual article. They can viewed by subject or date.
- The Laws of War (Avalon Project at Yale Law School)
This list is mostly historical in nature. The dates of the laws range from 1856 to 1975, and are presented in chronological order.
- Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General available in print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
To access the online version click on "Status of Treaties (MTDSG)". The on-line version is currently updated daily. This publication has information on when countries sign, ratify, accede or lodge declarations, reservations or objections. It is printed annually in three volumes. This does not have the the actual text of the treaties it does provide citation for locating a copy.
- United Nations Treaty Collection (Georgetown Law Only)
The United Nations Treaty series contains the texts of over 30,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties in their authentic language(s), along with a translation into English and French, as appropriate, for those treaties registered with the Secretariat.
- World Treaty Index print and online
In this index you can search by key word (e.g. criminal matters) or by parties (e.g. U.S.S.R). This resource lists the official citation which is key for locating a copy of the text of the treaty.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY),) Special Court for Sierra Leone, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the International Criminal Court (ICC) were all formed by the United Nations. These tribunals are generally limited in both jurisdiction and whom they can bring to trial.
The ICC is a permanent body established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is a treaty. Unlike the tribunals, the ICC has universal jurisdiction, among those parties which have ratified the treaty.
Please note, these tribunals and the ICC are distinct from the International Court of Justice. The ICJ is the principle judicial body of the U.N. and cases brought before this court are generally "legal disputes between States submitted to it by them".
- The Contribution of the Rwanda Tribunal to the Development of International Law print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
A presentation of both the history of Rwanda and the ICTR. This reviews the cases as processes in of themselves, but also as part of the further progress of international law.
- Implementing International Humanitarian Law : From the Ad Hoc Tribunals to a Permanent International Criminal Court INTL KZ6471.A39 2004
The book traces the development of the international courts of justice as important parts of establishing the persecution of war crimes.
- International Criminal Practice : The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the East Timor Special Panel for Serious Crimes, War Crimes Prosecutions in Kosovo INTL KZ6310.J66 2003
The material is arranged thematically for accessing the statutes, rules of procedure and evidence, and jurisprudence governing these courts and tribunals. There is also commentary and extracts from judgments, decisions, and orders
- International Crimes and the Ad Hoc Tribunals print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
Organized around major issues such as personal responsibility to sentencing this book provides an in-depth overview of the statutes and laws applied in the prosecution of war crimes.
- Internationalized Criminal Courts and Tribunals : Sierra Leone, East Timor, Kosovo, and Cambodia print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
A comparative review of how these courts prosecuted war crimes but also how as group these tribunals help shape international law.
Note on differences between online & print document availability:
Researchers delving into the trial documents of the ICTY and the ICTR frequently seek specific materials. Experience has shown that not all trial documents are available online or in all of the print sources.
For example, in the ICTR case of Alfred Musema (ICTR-96-13), the original indictment charged Musema with "genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The amended indictment charged him with "genocide, or in the alternative, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide" and other charges. The charge of complicity in genocide was omitted from the original indictment.
The ICTR web site only provides the amended indictment. The print source Reports of Orders, Decisions and Judgements (ICTR) INTL KZ1201.A2 T75 1995- likewise only includes the amended indictment (although it is not labeled "amended"). The only source that reprints the original is the Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection INTL KZ1190.G56. The bottom line: for the most thorough research, be sure to compare online and print availability of ICTR and ICTY documents!
Recent tribunals have excellent web sites (see below) with basic legal documents, indictments and case law. Below are the key print and database resources for case law and other basic legal materials for the international courts and tribunals.
- Basic Documents (ICTY) INTL REF K545.I58
From the Yugoslav Tribunals.
- Global War Crimes Tribunal Collection INTL KZ1190.G56
Trial materials for the Rwanda and Yugoslav tribunals.
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Reports of Orders, Decisions and Judgements INTL KZ 1201.A2 T75 1995-
- Judicial Reports (ICTY)INTL KZ1203.A2 J83
From the Yugoslav Tribunals
- Lexis (Georgetown Law Only) To access International materials on Lexis, you must log into Lexis advance, select the Research tab at the top left of the page, and then select Lexis.com from the drop down menu that appears. International materials are only available on the classic platform (old Lexis). Bolded below is the pathway to take from the classic platform:
International Court of Justice- Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > International Law > Find Cases > International Court of Justice Decisions, Combined - this includes the advisory opinions, filings and judgments.
- Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
Maintains a database of ICTY and ICTR documents which is searchable. You can also sort by article number, keyword, name of accused, date, type of decision, and reference to other cases.
- The Sierra Leone Special Court Collection INTL KZ1208.S53 A25 2008
A three volume set with such materials as the the basic documents of the court (such as the codes of conduct), indictment and related documents against Charles Taylor as well as the transcripts.
- Westlaw (Georgetown Law Only)
International Criminal Tribunal - Combined [INT-ICT] Coverage begins with 1995. This database has case law from both the ICTY and the ICTR.
The official web sites of international courts and tribunals contain a wealth of information. On these sites you can often find:
- Case law
- Basic documents, including the treaty or other document that established the court
- Rules of procedure
- Information on judges
- Schedule of trials
- Annual reports, statistics and other background information
- Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
In 2001, the Cambodian National Assembly passed a law which created the Extraordinary Chambers to try crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. In 2003, an agreement was reached with the UN detailing how the international community will assist and participate in the Extraordinary Chambers (ARES/57/228B).
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
In July 1998, 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries. The ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed after July 1, 2002.
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
In November 1994, acting under Chapter VII of the U. N. Charter, the Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by resolution S/RES/955. The resolution was reissued for technical reasons on 6 July 2010 (S/RES/1932). The ICTR would prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.
- International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
In May 1993, the Tribunal was established by the United Nations (S/RES/827) in response to the war crimes during the conflicts in the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the 1990's. The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.
- Special Court for Sierra Leone
In January 2002, the Special Court for Sierra Leone was established jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the U.N. (S/RES/1315). Sierra Leone's Parliament ratified the Special Court Agreement in the same year. It is to try those violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.
- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: Fifty Years Later,15 **ARIZ. J. INT'L & COMP. L.** 416 (1998) available in print and online.
Though a little dated, this provides an excellent starting point for a review of the history and legal scholarship that has been generated on this topic.
- The Genocidal Temptation: Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Rwanda, and Beyond INTL HV6322.7.G44 2004
Examines genocide throughout the world in a comparative approach through a series of interdisciplinary essays, ranging from science to history to philosophy.
- The Genocide Convention: the Travaux Préparatoires INTL K5302 .A92 2008
Gathered together are the records of the meetings which led to the initial adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
- Genocide in International Law: the Crime of Crimes INTL K5302 .S32 2009
This book presents an overall history of the legal interpretations of the Convention on Genocide. There is also a detailed focus on practical problems of criminal prosecution.
- Genocide in Our Time : An Annotated Bibliography with Analytical Introductions INTL K5302.D63 1992
Relevant books on the topic of genocide are listed along with reviews of the changing concept of "genocide" in terms the criteria,who is held responsible, and why.
- The UN Genocide Convention: a Commentary INTL K5302 .U55 2009
Organized thematically, for each article of the U.N. Genocide Convention, is a series of essays with a review and analysis the travaux préparatoires and subsequent developments in international law.
- War and Genocide: Organized Killing in Modern Society INTL K5302.S523 2003
This book examines genocide as part of war throughout history starting with the Nazi Holocaust to Rwanda. This book includes readings and web sites for further research.
- Crimes Against Humanity: A Normative Account INTL K5301.M39 2005
An examination of the legal and philosophical fundamentals of international criminal law such as state sovereignty and the moral, political implications when crimes against humanity are committed.
- The Criminal Responsibility of Individuals for Violations of International Humanitarian Law INTL K5064.S59 2003
A review of how international criminal has dealt with the issue of both holding an individual accountable for his or her actions, as well as the state and/or larger organizations.
- Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence: The ICC and the Practice of the ICTY and the ICTR INTL KZ1168.5 .B76 2005
A history of sexual violence as part of war crimes throughout time and with a focus on ICTY and ICTR. Plus a review of how supranational criminal law system (sentencing and reparation) address this issue in both practical and legal terms.
Historical research often means consulting print materials and journals. Use the library catalog to locate books on your topic. In on order to a thorough periodical literature search on a historical topic (Nuremberg, Vietnam, American civil war, etc.), you will need to consult print indexes - most of the electronic indexes provide coverage back to 1981. This guide will help you locate print indexes.
Key Web sites & Print Resources
The Nuremberg trials, heard by the International Military Tribunal, consist of twelve trials with over a hundred defendants and took place from 1945 to 1949. There was the Justice Trial, which considered the criminal responsibility of judges who enforced certain laws. There was also the Doctors Trial, which were about, in part, the medical experiments preformed on prisoners of war and civilians in occupied territory. The one most known is the first trial, generally referred to as the Major War Criminals trial. The materials below focus on the Major War Criminals trial, but included are other historical war crimes trials.
- The Andersonville Prison Trial: the Trial of Captain Henry Wirz available in print and online through Making of Modern law (Georgetown Law Only) and as e-book (Georgetown Law Only)
This is trial from the Civil War, includes excerpts from the trial, historical research such as newspaper and magazine passages and illustrations of the camp grounds.
- German War Trials: Report of Proceedings before the Supreme Court in Leipzig: with Appendices available online (Georgetown Law Only)
These post World War I trials were allowed under Articles 228-230 of the Treaty of Versailles (called the Treaty of Peace in this text). Those articles allowed for the prosecution of those who had committed "acts in violation of laws and customs of war".
- Nazi conspiracy and aggression INTL KZ1176 .U54 1946
These are also known as the "Red Set". There are eight volumes plus supplements A-B and opinions. These have an indexed sampling of the evidence used to support the charges made in the Major War Crime trial. There is also a glossary, short biographies of the German defendants, as well as summaries of the individual cases against them.
- The Red Set is online through the Military Legal Resources through the Library of Congress and is complete
- The Red Set online through the The International Military Tribunal for Germany through the Avalon Project - Yale Law School and has up to volume four and supplement B part 1.
- The Red Set is also online (Georgetown Law Only) through the HeinOnline World Trials Library (Georgetown Law Only) and is complete
- The Tokyo War Crimes Trial INTL KZ1181.I57 1981 The complete transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Use in conjunction with the following guide. The Tokyo War Crimes Trial : Index and Guide INTL KZ1181.I57 1981 Suppl.
- The Trial of German Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremberg, Germany (commencing 20th November, 1945) : opening speeches of the chief prosecutors for the United States of America, the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics INTL KZ1176 .I58 2001
These speeches are generally viewed as not only important historical documents but also key in shaping how war crimes were to be prosecuted and brought to trial.
- Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945-1 October 1946 INTL KZ1176 .T73 1947
These are also known as the "Blue Set". There are forty-two volumes in total. These are the official record of the Major War Crime trial, which include basic, official, pre-trial documents, together with the Tribunal's judgment and sentence of the defendants. They also include full trial proceedings and documents admitted into evidence.
- The Blue Set is online through the Military Legal Resources through the Library of Congress and is complete.
- The Blue set is also online through the The International Military Tribunal for Germany through the Avalon Project - Yale Law School and has up to volume twenty-two.
- The Blue set is also online (Georgetown Law Only) through the HeinOnline World Trials Library (Georgetown Law Only) and is complete.
These subscription databases are available to Georgetown Law Only. Sometimes the best (or in some cases the only) way to locate information on your topic is to use periodicals which are journals, magazines and newspapers. You can locate scholarly publications, first hand accounts and other relevant materials. Below is a sampling some relevant resources.
A searchable full text article database which includes history, economics, political science, social sciences and other scholarly journals. Coverage extends back to volume one of each journal.
- HarpWeek (1857-1912)
Offers full text and images of Harper's Weekly from the Civil War Era and early years of the Reconstruction Era (1857-1871), through the Gilded Age (1878-1912), with searchable index.
- Historical Abstracts
Provides indexes and abstracts, articles, book chapters, books and dissertations dealing with non-U. S. history from 1450 to the present.
- The New York Times Historical Newspapers
is a full text searchable database providing PDF images of the New York Times from 1851 to 2002.
Research Guides and Bibliographies for Historical Research
- German Legal Research
This Georgetown Law research guide has a section on Nuremberg Trials Materials.
- Holocaust Research Guide (Emory University)
Click on the tab listings (e.g. Reference Sources) to view the different sections of the guide. Remember to check Georgetown main campus library for the materials if the law library does not have the listed materials.
- European War Crimes Trials : A Bibliography in print and online
A survey of the scholarly materials published on this topic between 1941-1950 with limited annotation of the materials presented.
- The Tokyo Trial : A Bibliographic Guide to English-Language Sources INTL K5000.W47 2005
A good place to start for both locating relevant materials in English, but also for a accessible overview of the both the Tokyo Trials and other Asian Pacific region trials between 1945 and 1956.
Periodical literature is a good way to obtain background information or to locate information about a subject. Westlaw and Lexis provide excellent coverage of U.S. law reviews, but you should consider expanding your journal research to foreign journals and indexes for more comprehensive and global coverage. See our Locating Journal Articles: Foreign & International guide for specific information on these sources. For information on other journal databases, see our Using Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research for a complete list.
If you already have a citation and would like to read the article, simply type the journal name as a title search in the library catalog. The results will tell you if we have print, electronic, or both. Be sure to check coverage dates or volume numbers to determine if your particular volume or issue is available. If the library does not have the journal article, you may request the article through interlibrary loan and we will ask another library to make a photocopy.
Below is a sampling of some of the journals which focus on war crimes. For back issues search in the online catalog using the title of the journal.
- The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals available in print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
- Holocaust and Genocide Studies available in the Lauinger Periodical Stacks and online (Georgetown Law Only)
- Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law available in print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
- International Journal on Minority and Group Rights available in print and online (Georgetown Law Only)
- The International Criminal Court Monitor available online
- International Justice Tribune Newsletter and Archives (Georgetown Only)
Covers war crimes both at the national and international level, the archives also have coverage of ICTR and ICTY. To access archived materials scroll to the bottom of the page, on the right there is the heading Dossiers IJ, underneath that heading click on the relevant tribunal.
- Jurist: Genocide
The legal news and real-time legal research web site maintained at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law provides excellent current awareness pages on international criminal tribunals and courts. On the main page, click on "topic" to search for the court, person or general topic. This current awareness tool provides updates on genocidal events, trials, and other news.
- Prevent Genocide International
This has not been updated since 2008, however it has a compilation of genocide laws from over thirty nations.
- Cambodian Genocide Program (Yale University)
Documents the mass killings in Cambodia during the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime headed by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979. Activities include documentation, preservation, research, and training. The site includes bibliographic, biographic and prisoner image databases.
- Crimes of War
This is created collaboratively by journalists, lawyers and scholars and can be browsed by regions or themes. They have also posted sections from their book Crimes of War with definitions and historical overviews of basic terms (slavery).
Want more information on war crimes and related topics? These other research guides may help.
- War Crimes Research Portal and War Crimes Research Guide from the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case Western.
- ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law: International Criminal Law
- Human Rights Law (Georgetown)
- International Criminal Court - Article 98 Agreements (Georgetown)
- International Criminal Courts for the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone (GlobaLex)
- War Crime Material and War Crimes: Resources and Research Steps (New England School of Law)
The War Crime Materials is more of a list of helpful links and resources (e.g. Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo: An Accounting - U.S. State Dept. Report, Dec. 1999), in contrast the Resource and Research while a little dated, walks one through some the first steps in starting this kind of research.
Other Useful Resources
- SSRN's Legal Scholarship Network
Includes papers that have been accepted but not yet published in journals. This resource can be particularly useful for finding current or developing scholarly legal and interdisciplinary discussions, given the wide the breadth of topics within war crimes.
- From Nuremberg to Darfur: Accountability for Crimes Against Humanity: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate hearing 110-786, June 24, 2008
Though more about policy, this does have in the question-and-answer section of written questions submitted by the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law to professor Diane Orentlicher. The committee asked about the legal implications of the prosecution of war crimes under U.S. law, as well as the prosecution of war crimes under both international and foreign law. Available in print , through LexisNexis Congressional online (Georgetown Only). There is also a webcast of some of the witnesses, available through the U.S. Senate, the Committee on the Judiciary.
Revised September 2010 (ras)
Links added December 2008 (mms)
Links revised August 2008 (ras)
Revised April 2007 (aeb)
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