State Socialist Endeavours for the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to International Crimes: Historical Roots and Current Implications

In: Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d'histoire du droit international
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  • 1 University of Exeter, UK

Abstract

This article analyses the role of Eastern European socialist governments and legal experts in encoding the non-applicability of statutory limitations to international crimes. It argues that socialist elites put this topic on the agenda of the international community in the 1960s through two interrelated processes. On the one hand, legal scholars cooperated with Western European lawyers in order to enforce the idea that the international crimes codified by the Nuremberg Charter should not be subject to prescription. On the other hand, Eastern European governments proposed and enabled – through their cooperation with African and Asian states – the adoption of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, this instrument became an important tool for advancing prosecutions of international crimes committed under dictatorships and violent conflicts, particularly in Central Eastern Europe and Latin America.

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