Problems and Implications of Outlawing Aggressive War : An Examination of the Charter Resulting from the London Conference, August 8, 1945
The problem. The International Military Tribunal which tried Nazi Germany's leaders after the Second World War was predicated on the Allied nations' signing of the London Charter, which provided the law and procedures for the Nuremberg war-crime trials. The Charter is something of a landmark, both as a substantive code outlawing crimes against the international community and as an instrument establishing a procedure for prosecution and trial of such crimes before an international court. The focus of this paper will be on the category in the charter that deals with crimes against peace, which consist of conspiring to wage, initiating, or waging a war of aggression. Procedure. Examination of relevant documents and written analyses, which are available in the Drake Cowles and Law School libraries. Conclusions. At the London Conference aggressive warfare was declared to be an international crime. Whether the conferees were codifying a principle generally accepted internationally or creating ex post facto legislation remains a question of substantive process. The principle of outlawing aggressive warfare was incorporated into the charter of the United Nations. It appears doubtful that the United Nations can enforce this principle based on the considerations that the United Nations has been awarded weak coercive powers; the superpowers are regionally aligned and have established the practice of "collective self-defense" within their respective regions; any consensual definition of a nation-state is lacking, especially with regard to emerging nations; and, the nation-states or aspiring nation-states have the universally confirmed right to engage in wars of self-determination. Overtime if world organization becomes functionally oriented, this may provide the key to reordering the nationstate system and, as a consequence rather than a declared goal, end aggressive warfare.
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