Journal of the International Law Department of the University of Miskolc

Miskolc Journal of International Law

Miskolci Nemzetközi Jogi Közlemények


Vol. 2. (2005) No. 2. pp. 60-61.



(Editor in Chief: Dinah L. Shelton)


A brand new publication is now available related to the very actual issue of International Criminal Law. The three volumes were published in 2005 by Macmillan Reference (USA). The authors intended to create a global introduction into every dominant aspects of the main subject. As the issue of International Criminal Law affects numerous cases world-wide in the field of Public International Law, and raises many criminal and humanitarian legal, world-political and human rights questions, the book consists of three volumes and almost 1500 pages. As the editors achieved the aim to give an appropriate survey about the criminal aspects of International Law, this book is suitable to be used for their educational goals as well.

 The Editor in Chief is Dinah L. Shelton from the George Washington University Law School. Her colleagues, the Associate Editors are outstanding experts of International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law: Howard Adelman (Princeton University; Woodrow Wilson School; York University, Canada), Frank Chalk (Department of History, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies), Alexandre Kiss (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and William A. Schabas (Irish Centre for Human Rights; National University of Ireland, Galway).

 More than 300 authors contributed to the editorial board. Here can be mentioned names of the most important representatives of the literature in the field of International Humanitarian and Criminal Law such as M. Cherif Bassiouni, James Crawford, Benjamin B. Ferencz, José Sánchez, but also the former Hungarian judge of the International Court of Justice, Géza Herczegh.

 The Encyclopedia introduces the different symptoms related to genocide and crimes against humanity in an alphabetical order. Here are described the very actual issues belonging to these problems. The conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chechnya, Iraq and Rwanda can be mentioned as examples for territories which are in the centre of attention of the recent world and also of this book. Differences and atrocities between ethnic groups are still problems to solve, international crimes committed in wars in large numbers are troubles of the presence. This issue raises also the question how to make the procedures in these cases more efficient.

 The Encyclopedia mentions all the relevant examples in the history when introducing the development of criminal jurisdiction. It deals with the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials, and also with the there appearing issue of “victor’s justice”. Going on with the introduction of the ad hoc Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, the chapters also reach the highly political and legal issue of the International Criminal Court. In connection with this judicial forum are mentioned beyond the crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the Court and the adoption of the Rome Statute also the problematic aspects, such as the lack of universality and the objections of the United States to the Court.

  The high number of the cases in ethnically complex, so especially conflictive territories could result another serious problem, the overload of the International Criminal Court and the national judicial bodies, for which an alternative solution must be found. One possible answer to this question can be the reconciliation process. The book pays outstanding attention to this issue as well, raising word about amnesty, reconciliation in general, truth commissions and all the territories which are affected, such as South Africa, Cambodia, El Salvador, Argentina and East Timor.

 It cannot be forgotten that the question of genocide, ethnic diversity and crimes against humanity has large complexity. Not only legal issues are significant in this point of view but the social and cultural aspects as well. This is the reason why the editors dealt also with questions of anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy and different branches of art and their role related to the conflicts.

 The main part of the book is followed by a Filmography including well-known and less-known movies which can illustrate the problems related to conflictive areas suitably. The third volume includes also the Primary Sources of this field of International Law. In this chapter can be found the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of War, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on Apartheid. Beyond these fundamental conventions there are the charters of the ad hoc Criminal Tribunals, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and other significant legal documents as well. 

Eszter Kirs