War Crimes vs Crimes against Humanity
Both War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity involve crimes committed against people in hostile situations, such as intra-state or inter-state conflicts. War crimes refer to acts of violence during times of war, while crimes against humanity, like genocide, involve large-scale casualties. Although both are considered war crimes, crimes against humanity specifically target a particular group of people based on their race, religion, or political orientation and are either part of government policy or condoned by the government.
What are War Crimes?
War crimes are grave violations of customary and treaty law concerning international humanitarian law, which are now considered criminal offenses with individual responsibility. They involve the non-adherence to the norms of procedure and rules of battle, such as the mistreatment of prisoners of war and civilians. The first formal statements on war crimes were established during the Hague and Geneva Conventions, but the earliest “international” tribunal concerning war crimes was held in the Holy Roman Empire in 1474. The definition of war crimes was further refined with the London Charter at the end of World War II, which was used in the Nuremberg Trials. The London Charter also established the meaning of crimes against humanity, which were common occurrences during times of war.
What are Crimes against Humanity?
Crimes against humanity are any act that is part of a grave attack on human dignity or severe humiliation or degradation of one or more human beings. These offenses are not isolated or sporadic but are part of a government policy or condoned or ignored by the government. The persecution of humans based on their culture, race, religion, or political beliefs constitutes a crime against humanity, such as the Holocaust. Isolated inhumane offenses of this nature may be classified as human rights violations or considered war crimes, depending on the situation, but may not be considered crimes against humanity.
- War crimes involve acts of violence during times of war, while crimes against humanity specifically target a particular group of people based on their race, religion, or political orientation and are either part of government policy or condoned by the government.
- Crimes against humanity are part of a government policy or condoned or ignored by the government, while war crimes do not need to be condoned by the perpetrator’s government.
- Crimes against humanity are usually attributed to the government or country as a whole, while war crimes can be attributed to a specific person.