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The Birth of the New JusticeThe Internationalization of Crime and Punishment, 1919-1950$
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Mark Lewis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199660285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660285.001.0001

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Blueprints for International Criminal Courts and Their Political Rejection in the 1920s

Blueprints for International Criminal Courts and Their Political Rejection in the 1920s

(p.78) 4 Blueprints for International Criminal Courts and Their Political Rejection in the 1920s
The Birth of the New Justice

Mark A. Lewis

Oxford University Press

At the Paris Peace Conference, liberal internationalists maintained that the international system could be regulated by a new League of Nations and an international court to settle political disputes. This was not an international criminal court, however. Later, different European jurists adopted that project for liberal and conservative purposes. In 1920 Baron Edouard Descamps proposed a non-permanent international criminal court with jurisdiction over aggressive war and war crimes, but also over “crimes against the international order,” meaning socialist revolution. Romanian jurist Vespasien V. Pella wanted to create an international criminal court to prevent wars of aggression, as well as create a new tool that would allow states to protect themselves against transnational crime, revolutionary socialism, and terrorism. The movement to build the new field of international criminal law in the 1920s had very little success because it was out of step with other legal and political developments in the League and could not resolve jurisdictional conflicts among states. By 1929, criminological jurists had helped write an anti-counterfeiting convention, but they needed a new project that would attract state officials to their grand vision of creating an international legal system based on criminal laws. The rise of new forms of terrorism provided that opportunity.

Keywords:   International criminal court, Permanent Court of International Justice, International Law Association, Association Internationale de Droit Pénal, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Bureau for the Unification of Criminal Law, Edouard Descamps, Hugh H. L. Bellot, Vespasien V. Pella, Frederick Llewellyn Jones, League of Nations

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