1st Edition

War Crimes Law, Politics, & Armed Conflict in the Modern World

By Steven P. Remy Copyright 2023
    206 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a concise and accessible introduction to the problem of war crimes in modern history, emphasizing the development of laws aimed at regulating the conduct of armed conflict developed from the 19th century to the present.

    Bringing together multiple strands of recent research in history, political science, and law, the book starts with an overview of the attempts across the pre-modern world to regulate the initiation, conduct, and outcomes of war. It then presents a survey of the legal revolution of the 19th century when, amidst a global welter of colonial wars, the first body of formal codes and laws relating to distinguishing legal from criminal conduct in war was developed. Further chapters investigate failed but influential attempts to develop the laws of war in the post-World War I period and summarize the major landmarks in international law related to war crimes, such as the Hague conventions and the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, as well as hundreds of lesser-known post-World War II trials in Europe and Asia. It also looks at the origins and debated significance of the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the 1949 Geneva Conventions, accounts for the acceleration worldwide of war crimes investigations and trials from the 1970s into the 2000s, and summarizes current thinking about international law and the rapidly changing nature of warfare worldwide as well as the memorialization of war crimes.

    Including images, documents, a bibliography highlighting the most recent scholarship, a chronology, who’s who, and a glossary, this is the perfect introduction for those wishing to understand the complex field or war crimes history and its politics.



    Who’s who


    Part 1: War crimes and the laws of war in the era of global war (18631945)

    1. The 19th century in the United States and Europe

    2. Colonial wars

    3. Between the Hague and Nuremberg

    4. The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals

    5. National trials in Europe and Asia


    Part 2: The world of war crimes and international law after World War II

    6. War crimes and international law in the Cold War and the era of decolonization

    7. From International Criminal Tribunals to the International Criminal Court

    8. Women and war crimes

    9. Future war: private military companies, drones, cyberwar, and ecocide

    10. Memory, transitional justice, and the investigative turn


    Part 3: Documents

    Document 1: General Orders, No. 100, Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field (the ‘Lieber Code’) (1863)

    Document 2: The Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)

    Document 3: Fighting colonial wars: From Charles Callwell’s Small Wars (1896)

    Document 4: Henry L. Stimson, ‘The Nuremberg Trial: Landmark in Law’ (1947)

    Document 5: Conversation between General of the Army MacArthur and Mr. George F. Kennan, March 5, 1948

    Document 6: Raphael Lemkin and the UN defines "genocide" (1944 and 1945)

    Document 7: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicts Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic (1995)

    Document 8: African and international NGOs urge African states parties to the International Criminal Court to continue supporting the court (2017)

    Document 9: An African NGO reports on female perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda (1995)

    Document 10: A proposed definition of ecocide as a violation of international law (2021)

    Document 11: The president of Microsoft argues for the necessity of a ‘digital Geneva Convention’ (2017)

    Document 12: A Russian-American journalist reports on war crimes committed by the armed forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine (2022)

    Guide to further reading




    Steven P. Remy is Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His most recent publications include The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy (2017) and Adolf Hitler: A Reference Guide to His Life and Works (2022).