Nuremberg Defense

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was "only following orders" ("Befehl ist Befehl") and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.

Before the end of World War II, the Allies suspected such a defense might be employed, and issued the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, which specifically stated that this was not a valid defense against charges of war crimes.

Thus, under the Nuremberg Principles, "defense of superior orders" is not a defense for war crimes, although it might influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty.

"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

The United States military adjusted the Uniform Code of Military Justice after World War II. They included a rule nullifying this defense, essentially stating that American military personnel are allowed to refuse unlawful orders. This defense is still used often, however, reasoning that an unlawful order presents a dilemma from which there is no legal escape. One who refuses an unlawful order will still probably be jailed (and in some countries probably killed), and one who accepts one will probably be jailed.

All US military personnel receive annual training in the Law of Armed Conflict, which delineates lawful and unlawful behaviors during armed conflicts, and is derived from the Geneva Conventions, a subset of international law. This training is designed to ensure that US military personnel are familiar with their military, ethical and legal obligations during wartime.

Uses

Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl and other defendants of the Nuremberg trials unsuccessfully used the defense during their trials. The defense was employed during the court martial of William Calley following the My Lai Massacre in 1968. The defense has also been used to defend soldiers during the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.

Ehren Watada refused to go to Iraq on account of the Iraq war being a war of aggression, making him liable for prosecution for war crimes under the command responsibility doctrine. The judge ruled that a US soldier is not allowed to determine whether orders given are unlawful and as such this would mean he/she is forced to follow those orders he/she considers illegal, and inevitably if charged with war crimes has to resort to the I was only following orders defense.

In 1996, the Nuremberg Defense was successfully used by Erich Priebke, although the verdict was appealed and he was later convicted. It was used with varying degrees of success by those involved in the Hostages Trial.

The main theme of the movie A Few Good Men is about whether someone ordered to commit a crime is guilty or innocent.

Based on this principle international law developed the concept of individual criminal liability for war crimes which resulted in the current doctrine of Command responsibility.

See also

External links

defenses (or defences) in order to avoid liability, civil or criminal.

A defendant will often contest the accuracy of the allegations made against him or her in a criminal indictment or in a civil complaint.
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Nuremberg Trials are a series of trials most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1949, at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice.
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Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 China
 France
...et al. Axis powers:
 Germany
 Japan
 Italy
...et al.
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The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (usually referred to simply as the London Charter or Nuremberg Charter) was the decree issued on August 8, 1945, that set down the laws and procedures by which the Nuremberg trials were to be conducted.
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war crime is a punishable offense under international law, for violations of the laws of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war in an inter-state conflict is a war crime, while violations in internal conflicts are typically limited to
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The Nuremberg Principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by necessity during the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.
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The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ, 64 Stat. 109, 10 U.S.C.  ch.47 ) is the foundation of military law in the United States.

History

On June 30, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established 69 Articles of War to govern the conduct of the
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International humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the law of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict, is the legal corpus "comprised of the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, as well as subsequent treaties, case law,
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Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties formulated in Geneva, Switzerland, that set the standards for international law for humanitarian concerns.

They chiefly concern the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war.
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Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel (September 22, 1882–October 16, 1946) was a German field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) and a senior military leader during World War II.
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Alfred Jodl (May 10, 1890 – October 16, 1946) was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel.
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Nuremberg Trials are a series of trials most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1949, at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice.
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William Laws Calley, Jr. (born June 8, 1943 in Miami, Florida) is an American convicted murderer and war criminal. The former U.S. Army officer was found guilty of ordering the March 16, 1968, My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam war.
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My Lai massacre

Location Song My village, Sơn Tịnh district of South Vietnam

Target(s) My Lai 4 hamlet
Date March 16, 1968
Attack type Massacre

Deaths 347 to 504


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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1930s  1940s  1950s  - 1960s -  1970s  1980s  1990s
1965 1966 1967 - 1968 - 1969 1970 1971

Year 1968 (MCMLXVIII
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Ehren Watada (born 1978) is a First Lieutenant (1LT) of the United States Army who in June 2006 publicly refused[1][2] to deploy to Iraq for his unit's assigned rotation to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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Waging a war of aggression is a crime under customary international law and refers to any war not out of self-defense or sanctioned by Article 51 of the UN Charter.
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Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes.
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Erich Priebke (born July 29, 1913 at Hennigsdorf, Brandenburg, Germany) is a Nazi war criminal. A former Hauptsturmführer in the Waffen SS [1] , he participated in the massacre at the Ardeatine caves in Rome, on March 24, 1944.
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Hostages Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs. Wilhelm List, et al.) was held from 8 July, 1947 until 19 February, 1948 and was the seventh of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S.
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IMDb profile
A Few Good Men, a play by Aaron Sorkin, was acclaimed on Broadway and was subsequently made into a successful film in 1992. It tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their
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International law can refer to three distinct legal disciplines.
  • public international law, which involves for instance the United Nations, maritime law, international criminal law and the Geneva conventions.

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Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes.
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Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes.
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Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes.
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Lynndie Rana England (born November 8, 1982) is a former United States Army reservist who served in the 372nd Military Police Company. She was one of several soldiers convicted by the Army courts-martial in connection with the torture and prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in
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