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The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law$
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Kevin Jon Heller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554317

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554317.001.0001

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(p.295) 13 Defenses
The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law

Kevin Jon Heller

Oxford University Press

Defences to criminal conduct are often an overlooked aspect of international criminal law. As this chapter explains, that weakness does not apply to the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, which generated an extensive jurisprudence concerning a variety of defences. Section 1 discusses ‘jurisdictional’ defences, such as tu quoque. Section 2 focuses on substantive defences that emphasized the defendant's lack of responsibility for a particular crime, such as superior orders and mistakes of law. Finally, Section 3 discusses the defence of military necessity, which functioned either as a failure of proof defence or as a justification, depending on the circumstances.

Keywords:   defenses, tu quoque, superior orders, mistake, duress, selective prosecution

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