War Crimes and crimes against humanity

According to the Rome statute articles 8, war crimes are all those acts that bre3ach the 1949 Geneva conventions and all serious violations either of laws or customs in all armed conflicts ranging from international armed conflicts to those in internal setting. The article 3 which is common to the Geneva conventions of 1949 must also be adhered to if the Rome statute, article 8 is to be observed keenly. It should be noted that the article 7 of the Rome statute defines crimes against humanity as the “acts when committed as part of widespread or systematic attack”.

These acts must however target civilians. (http://www. cic. gc. ca/English/resources/mannuals). This article not only contrasts the two articles of the Rome statute (7 & 8) but also compares them. Crimes against humanity can be committed at any time irregardless of whether or not there is war. In times of war it doesn’t matter whether the war is international in nature or not. In paragraph 1 of the Rome statute, article 7, the acts that are cited as crimes against humanity can occur even during peace times.

These include murder, deportation, extermination, torture enslavement sexual violence, apartheid, persecution or even enforced disappearance of persons. It also includes all other acts which are inhumane in nature intentionally committed to cause unnecessary suffering to a human being. This includes limitation to a conflict to use war methods and means of their choice as prohibited by international humanitarian law in which its violation will result to war crime. (Olusanya O. , 2005) On the other hand war crimes are only committed in times of war but not peace times.

The Rome statute article 8 paragraph 2 defines war crimes as the” grave breaches of the Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949” These Geneva conventions which are four in number address; armed forces welfare address while in field, wounded , those ailing or shipwrecked at sea, humane treatment of war prisoners and safety of civilian in war times. This clearly indicates that war crimes can only be committed during times of war. For instance, killing an innocent person in peace times is a crime against humanity but not a war crime.

A member of the armed force killing a civilian during times of war is both a war crime and a crime against humanity. (http://www. cic. gc. ca/English/resources/mannuals) Acts which are isolated and reprehensible cannot be classified as crimes against humanity. This cannot be taken to mean that crime against humanity cannot even be a single act. What must however been proved is that this particular act was a result of carrying out an implementation plan for either widespread policy or a policy which is systematic.

This is clearly illustrated under the Rome statute, article 6 paragraph one which explains that crime against humanity should be taken to mean “……acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population… ” Just for illustration purposes, paragraph two goes ahead and explains that “attack directed against any civilian population means a course of conduct involving the multiple commissions of acts…” The phrases “any civilian population” is applicable to all acts which are criminalized under this statute. (Seiderman I, 2001)

On the contrary a single atrocity can be interpreted to mean a war crime. The Rome statute clearly explains in article 8 paragraph 1 that “the court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes in particular when committed as a part of a plan or policy or as part of a large –scale commission of such crime” that result as breach of “Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949” For instance , torture of a single individuals who belong to a particular targeted group of people will be interpreted to mean war crime but if it was not part of a large-scale plan than it cannot be taken to mean commission of a war crime.

(Olusanya O, 2005) War crimes including those committed during times of civil war occur only when certain intensities of a act undertaken by the warring parties is reached. Excessive use of force by police officers in times of riot cannot mean that police officers committed a war crime. This is however taken to mean crime against humanity. This has been witnessed over the post when riot police officers use live bullets to disperse angry demonstrators. A recent example was the case of a police officer who shot two demonstrators in the western part of Kenya as was captured by camera.

The officer used excess force by using live bullets to kill these two demonstrators even when he had other options he could have used. Under the Rome statute, article 8, this is not a war crime. (Boot M, 2002) In terms of violations the number of persons involved in war crimes is relatively smaller as compared to those involved in crimes against humanity. This can be due to the fact that war crimes can act the same time be crimes against humanity. (http://www. cic. gc/Engish/resources/mannuals) War crimes are committed specifically in times of armed conflict and it is not all the time when armed conflicts take place.

These reasons among others reduce the number of war criminals to be relatively smaller than that of those falling under crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are interpreted by courts and tribunals. This is because such crimes occur as a grievous breach of human rights law which is implemented by these courts and tribunals. On the contrary war crimes are interpreted and governed by treaties and customs. This is because war crimes involve two parties in conflict and use of courts and tribunals in enforcing war crimes not of international nature may involve partisan individual which may lead to injustice.

In the case of international conflict, each state is governed by its laws as stipulated under their constitution and thus the parties in conflict can not resolve their conflict through the same legal system. As a result the treaties that the countries signed will hold them responsible for their actions ands the same treaties will be used by the aggrieved partly in seeking justice. (Olusanya O,2005) Crimes against humanity as depicted in the Rome statute article 7 involve the violation of a person’s right. For instance every person has the right to life and murder will mean denying someone this fundamental right.

Each individual is therefore hold responsible for any acts that will deny other people from enjoying their rights. War crimes, on the other hand, involve violations of international humanitarian laws. The international humanitarian laws means internationally accepted rules that are put in place by signing of treaties with the intention of solving problems which are humanitarian in nature and which involve armed conflict. Article 7 of the Rome statute is very clear on this issue. (Boot M,2002) The rise of war crimes can be traced back to Geneva which was as a result of atrocities.

It is impossible to trace the origin of crime against humanity. Accordingly article 8 of the Rome statute war crimes came into existence after 12th august Geneva conventions in the year 1949. This convection criminated all actions listed under it. (Seiderman I, 2001) Despite these differences war crimes and crimes against humanity have some things in common. These similarities include the following. Both crimes are committed as a result of disrespect of humanity. All acts under article 7 and 8 in the Rome Statute are committed by persons who do not respect humanity.

Both crimes are security threats to innocent people since they deny individual their fundamentals rights. The two articles do not exempt any persons or group of persons who are guilty on the offences. This prevents any form of discrimination while dealing with the crimes. It should also be noted that both war crimes and crimes against humanity breach customary laws. (http://www. cic. gc. ca/English/resource/mannuals) Question 5 Abstract Human migration is the movement of people from an area of locality to a different one irregardless of the distance or the number of humans involved.

History shows that people are constantly migrating every time, modern migration has been as a result of industrialization and population pressure. Globalization has also contributed a lot to the issue of migration. Sometimes migration may not be as a result of personal choice as in the case of refugees. Technology has also increased the rate of migration. This involves the use of mobile phone services, fax computer networking. These migrations have impacted on the society negatively and it has been cited as a major threat to security.

Migration can be categorized into labor migration, migration of refugees and migration which is as a result of urbanization. Labor market has been globalized by the global nature of economy. Many people from rural areas are now migrating to urban areas where they constantly seek for employment and other social amenities. Following the political unrest in many parts of the world, many people have also been forced to live in foreign countries as refugees. All these of migrations are based on specific forms of pressure which may include population pressure, unemployment and insecurity among others.

(Manning, 2005) This paper examines the relationship between migration and crime in the modern world. As people migrate to urban areas in search of employment opportunities not all however are in position to be employed. High rate of unemployment in developing countries have forced people to migrate to other countries. These who are not able to get jobs end up engaging in criminal activities. Some become thieves while other turn to prostitution just to name but a few. This problem of urban crime has even been accelerated by rural urban form of migration.

(Julie, 1998) Organized crimes have been on the increase. This is a result of the freedom of movement that has enabled gangs of people to unite with a sole purpose of committing crimes. These people engage in highly profitable but illegal activities, such activities include human trafficking, drug trafficking and smuggling activities. Activities like human trafficking which has highly contributed to forced migration especially to women are as a result of legalization of some practices like prostitution in some countries.

The notion that women are objects to satisfy men’s sexual urge has highly been a contributing factor that has encouraged human trafficking. (http://www. fesu. org) Ethnic conflict which renders many people refugees has also led to increase in crime. Conflicts result to lawness in the society and create a state of anarchy. Criminals take advantage of such situations to increase their criminal activities. Conflict also led to illegal acquisition of dangerous fire arms tha are transported to different parts of the world for crime commissions. Terrorists groups highly maximize this opportunity and pose a great danger to many people.

Also included under this category and more important are the conflict based on political issues. These highly violate human rights. Research indicates that migration and crime are highly positively correlated. (Manning,2008) The government should address this problem by; proper legislation to address migration issues. In Hong Kong for instance the government uses imprisonment on a zero tolerance policy to Chinese women who migrate from mainland for commercial sex as a way to liberalize and properly control the Hong Kong’s internal boarder (Maggy l, 2008)

Governments can militarize borders especially where the rich nations boarder developing countries. United Nation has started to build a “high technology wall on the border to Mexico”. Helicopters, boats and planes have been patrolling along Mauritius coast Cape Verde and Senegal to carry out an operation which is being carried out by European Union in order to prevent migrants from penetrating the interior of Europe. (http://www. fesu. org) Use of technology can also help to reduce this problem.

For instance in Europe, a database by the name EURODAC has been introduced which is used to identify asylum seekers by use of fingerprints. In Australia, though they are not prisoners in real sense, asylum seekers are restricted to live in warehouse specifically meant to them. Society members should be encouraged to participate in solving this problem. It should be noted that diversity rejection and criminalization cannot solve immigration related problems. Institutions that maintain social order in the society should be strengthened. These include the family, church communities among others.

Lack of social order causes chaos, anarchy and lack of norms which increase both migration and crime (Liska, 1992) Structure inequality should be addressed well. This causes discrimination which led to socio economic deprivation. As a result it leads to ‘frustration aggression hypothesis’ as explained by (Dollord, 1939) Recent aggression may arise as a result of negative events. Such events include unhealthy competition, physical and psychological and impediments and unpleasant environment conditions. (Julie, 1998) People should be educated on issues that may increase the problem.

Since these problems affect the people, the same people can get the solutions if they can be allowed to hold public debates. Activities that may trigger crime should also be discouraged as in the case of legalization of prostitution in some countries that has increased human trafficking steadily over the recent past. (http://www. fesu. org)


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  • Julie A. (1998), crime and migration retrieved from http://proquest. umi. com/pqdlink on15th March, 2008
  • Manning P. (2005), migration in history, oxford university press
  • Maggy L,(2008 women’s imprisonment as a mechanism of migration control in Hong Kong, oxford university press), Migration and local crime prevention strategies (2003) retrieved from http://www. feswu. org on 15th March, 2008
  • Olusanya O. (2005), sentencing war crimes and crimes against humanity, Netherlands, Europe law publishing
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