by Raluca Grosescu
at the workshop Socialist Experts, Humanitarianism, and the Latin American Cold War Conflicts, Andhes University, Bogota, 1-3 August, 2017.
This paper examines the contribution of Eastern European socialist governments and legal experts to the development of international criminal law (ICL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) during the Cold War. It challenges the dominant scholarship that portray the Socialist Bloc as merely a roadblock to progress of international justice and humanitarianism and posits an alternative narrative: the socialist world in fact played a vital role for the emergence and consolidation of new ICL and IHL norms after 1945 and its participation was an essential element in the advancement of these fields of law. The paper discusses the socialist engagements with the definition of the ‘crime of aggression’, the linked charges of ‘crimes against peace’ and ‘common plan or conspiracy’ used against the Axis leaders at the post-war tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, the expansion of the Geneva Conventions to non-international conflicts, the non-applicability of statutory limitations to international crimes and the criminalization of apartheid under international law.