Laws of War

The term "laws of war" refers to the rules governing the actual conduct of armed
conflict. This idea that there actually exists rules that govern war is a
difficult concept to understand. The simple act of war in and of itself seems to
be in violation of an almost universal law prohibiting one human being from
killing another. But during times of war murder of the enemy is allowed, which
leads one to the question, "if murder is permissible then what possible "laws of
war" could there be?" The answer to this question can be found in the Charter
established at the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo:

Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation,
and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or
during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in
execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the
Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where
perpetrated. Leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in
the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the
foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in
execution of such plan.1

The above excerpt comes form the Charter of the Tribunal Article 6 section C,
which makes it quite clear that in general the "laws of war" are there to
protect innocent civilians before and during war.

It seems to be a fair idea to have such rules governing armed conflict in order
to protect the civilians in the general location of such a conflict. But, when
the conflict is over, and if war crimes have been committed, how then are
criminals of war brought to justice? The International Military Tribunals held
after World War II in Nuremberg on 20 November 1945 and in Tokyo on 3 May 1946
are excellent examples of how such crimes of war are dealt with. (Roberts and
Guelff 153-54) But, rather than elaborate on exact details of the Tribunals of
Nuremberg and Tokyo a more important matter must be dealt with. What happens
when alleged criminals of war are unable to be apprehended and justly tried? Are
they forgotten about, or are they sought after such as other criminals are in
order to serve justice? What happens if these alleged violators are found
residing somewhere other than where their pursuers want to bring them to
justice? How does one go about legally obtaining the custody of one such
suspect? Some of the answers to these questions can be found in an analysis of
how Israel went about obtaining the custody of individuals that it thought to be
guilty of Nazi War Crimes. Not only will one find some of the answers to the
previously stated questions, but also one will gain an understanding of one
facet of international law and how it works.

Two cases in specific will be dealt with here. First, the extradition of Adolf
Eichmann from Argentina, and second, the extradition of John Demjanjuk from the
United States of America. These cases demonstrate two very different ways that
Israel went about obtaining the custody of these alleged criminals. The cases
also expose the intricacy of International Law in matters of extradition. But,
before we begin to examine each of these cases we must first establish Israel\'s
right to judicial processing of alleged Nazi war criminals.

To understand the complications involved in Israel placing suspected Nazi war
criminals on trial, lets review the history of Israel\'s situation. During World
War II the Nazis were persecuting Jews in their concentration camps. At this
time the state of Israel did not exist. The ending of the war meant the ending
of the persecution, and when the other countries discovered what the Nazis had
done Military Tribunals quickly followed. Some of the accused war criminals were
tried and sentenced, but others managed to escape judgement and thus became
fugitives running from international law. Israel became a state, and thus, some
of the Jews that survived the concentration camps moved to the state largely
populated by people of Jewish ancestry. Israel felt a moral commitment because
of its large Jewish population and set about searching for the fugitive Nazi war
criminals.

The situation just described is only a basic overview of what happened. The
state of Israel views itself as the nation with the greatest moral jurisdiction
for the trial of Nazi war criminals, and other states around the Globe agree
with Israel\'s claim. (Lubet and Reed 1) Former Israeli Attorney General Gideon
Hausner was interested in confirming Israel as the place for