Audio Judge Kevin Parker outlines the development of humanitarian law, 2008

TLF ID R9898

This is an edited sound recording of Kevin Parker, vice-president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), describing how international law dealing with human rights violations was developed from the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals set up after the end of the Second World War. He explains how humanitarian law has been further developed in recent years by the ICTY and another tribunal set up to deal with cases in Rwanda. The recording was made in July 2008.



Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives an overview by an Australian judge of the way in which international humanitarian law has developed in recent decades. Judge Kevin Parker (1937-) explains that international law relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity were at a 'simple and preliminary' stage at the end of the Second World War (1939-45), but there is now 'a pretty comprehensive body of law' to enable international trials for alleged human rights abuses.
  • Parker outlines the distinction between war crimes and crimes against humanity. War crimes involve acts such as deliberately killing civilians without any military necessity and killing prisoners of war. Crimes against humanity involve serious abuses of a position that one person has, or one group of people has, against others. The crimes of the Nazis have been the foundation for today's human rights laws.
  • The Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals set up after the end of the Second World War were the first international criminal tribunals. At the Nuremberg Tribunal (1945-49), leading members of the former Nazi regime in Germany faced charges of conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Tokyo Tribunal (1946-48) heard similar charges against former senior Japanese figures.
  • As Parker points out, the basic principles of international law established in the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals were not expanded and developed until the 1990s when the ICTY and the Rwanda tribunals were set up. The 'body of law' developed before the ICTY and the Rwanda tribunals can now be used for international trials of people accused of gross human rights violations in other parts of the world.
  • As vice-president of the ICTY, Parker has continued a tradition of Australian leadership in the creation and development of international criminal law. Parker is a former judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and, as of 2008, has been one of 16 judges of the ICTY since 2003. Two other Australians have served on the ICTY bench - Sir Ninian Stephen (1923-) and David Hunt (1935-). Sir William Flood (1887-1972) was president of the Tokyo Tribunal.
  • Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the ICTY was set up by a resolution of the United Nations Security Council in 1993, with the objective of bringing to justice individuals responsible for serious breaches of international humanitarian law during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. These breaches included massacres, forced movement of large-scale populations and destruction of civilian property.

Other details

Contributors
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 20 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Remarks: Copyright Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Content provider
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 2008
  • Name: Kevin Parker
  • Remarks: speaker
Access profile
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Learning resource type
  • Sound
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Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.