The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed the rapid expansion of international criminal law. Though catalyzed by many factors, signicant credit for this remarkable growth can be attributed to two mutually reinforcing phenomena. First, following the bloodshed in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the international community resurrected the criminal tribunal as a fundamental component in defining and punishing criminal acts committed by state actors. Second, as the decade progressed, national governments became increasingly ready to protect their citizens’ rights by asserting “universal” jurisdiction over foreigners alleged to have violated those rights; most famously, this resulted in the London arrest of Augusto Pinochet. The growing acceptance of and jurisprudence surrounding both international criminal tribunals and universal jurisdiction came together in June 1998 when the United Nations adopted the Rome Statute, which defines the structure of the new International Criminal Court (I.C.C.).
Even if the immediate impetus for creating the I.C.C. was violence both in the Balkans and the African Great Lakes and related domestic judicial activism in the 1990s, the true forebear of the new Court is the Nuremberg Trials [hereinafter “the Trials”] following World War II; it was there that many of the notions later solidified by the Rome Statute were first promulgated, including the concept of “crimes against humanity.” Though the heritage of Nuremberg is evident in the I.C.C., the Trials have proven an uneasy foundation for the new body, with the precedent of Nuremberg’s dual political/judicial purpose causing some observers, and even potential I.C.C. member states, to shy away from endorsing the court. Philippe Sands’s edited work, From Nuremberg to the Hague: The Future of International Criminal Justice provides a wideranging examination of these issues, analyzing the Nuremberg Trials themselves, their impact on the ad hoc tribunals organized in response to Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and their likely impact on the potential of the I.C.C.