Evolution of the Mens Rea Doctrine in International Criminal Law

  • Iryna Marchuk
Chapter

Abstract

The first pivotal legal instruments of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals did not elaborate on the mens rea attributable to the crimes within their jurisdiction. The victorious Allied powers had appointed justices, who were entrusted with broad judicial discretionary powers, to settle the nature of mens rea in relation to the crimes charged. A number of thorny issues on the interpretation of the mens rea concept emerged during trial proceedings at Nuremberg, among others, the interpretation of knowledge as to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of conduct, the inference of intent, the interrelation between mens rea and defences etc. Defendants in Nuremberg were particularly keen on denying knowledge of the widespread scale of crimes, and invoking defences of superior orders and duress. The judges made it clear that the fact that defendants were assigned to their tasks by Hitler did not absolve them from criminal responsibility. By cooperating with Hitler, with knowledge of his criminal aims, they made themselves parties to the plan that he had initiated.

Keywords

International Criminal Court Appeal Chamber Rome Statute Trial Chamber Geneva Convention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iryna Marchuk
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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