“THE PENAL RESPONSIBILITY AND SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

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“THE PENAL RESPONSIBILITY AND SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

Abstract:

During this century, millions of children, women and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities in the threatre of wars that deeply shook the conscience of humanity. It is against this background that an analysis of the penal responsibility and sanctions for violations of International Humanitarian Law becomes necessary. The first chapter is a general introduction which highlighted all the core issues to be discussed and analysed in the course of this research work. The second chapter will examine the definition of crimes under international law, war crimes and the prosecution of war criminals which has become so vitally important to stem the impunity with which violations international humanitarian law go unpunished. The general scheme of repression codified in the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and its Additional Protocols of 1977, International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court will equally be examined. – 7 – Chapter three espouses the theory of state and individual responsibility under international law. It takes into cognizance that international humanitarian law establishes not only basic rights of the individual, but also contains important machinery for guaranteeing observance of these rules, imposes obligation necessary to repress any act constituting a serious infringement on personal dignity or a grave threat to the security of the civilian population. Though the prosecution of war criminals after World War I was largely ineffectual, coupled with the different interpretations given to the November trial with regard to the position of individual under international law. Chapter four establishes that whatever the case may be regarding the position of the individual under international law after the Nuremberg trials through the creation of the two ad hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the United Nations Security Council took a great leap forward and established, beyond doubt, that individuals may now, with respect to international humanitarian law, appear as subject bound by certain legal obligations directly under international law, and can be held individually responsible. – 8 – The main thrust of chapter four is the examination of the elaborate penal regime and the concomitant sanctions in the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and finally the Statute of International Criminal Court. Chapter five will examine the fundamental issue of which court has jurisdiction to prosecute the breaches of international humanitarian law against the backdrop that despite all the indignation aroused by the crimes, the international criminal tribunals are called upon to prosecute, the accused must be accorded the right to a fair hearing or trial. It takes cognisance of the fact that the effective humanitarian law and respect for human rights are complementary and indispensable to each other. They both contribute in upholding the rule of law. It is our conviction that research on the penal responsibility and sanctions for breaches of international humanitarian law cannot be complete without according a pride place to international committee of the Red Cross that informed the elaborate discussion on the same in Chapter six before concluding the research work and proffering the way forward

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