Laws of War




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 bringing to justice all