London Statute

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The London Statute (full official title: London Four Power Agreement of August 8, 1945 , also London Charter or Nuremberg Charter ) laid down the legal basis and procedural rules of the International and American Military Courts, which were established for the Nuremberg Trials . On August 8, 1945, at the London Conference, the London Four Power Agreement was signed by representatives of the main Allies of World War II . The statute of the International Military Tribunal was an annex to this agreement. Today it is regarded as the "birth certificate of international criminal law ". From a material and legal point of view, the London Statute formed the basis of the Control Council Act No. 10 , which the judicial authorities of the Allied military governments used as a basis for prosecution in the follow-up trials to the Nuremberg Trials of the main war criminals.


The statute built on the Declaration on the German atrocities ( Declaration of German Atrocities on) acting on the Moscow -Power Conference Three in October 1943 by the United States , the Soviet Union and Britain was signed. The court should have jurisdiction over war criminals "for whose crimes a geographic location is not given". According to the Moscow Declaration, other war criminals were to be transferred to the countries in which they had committed their crimes and tried there before national courts.

The text of the statute was discussed by the legal delegations of the four allied powers, which met in London under the leadership of the British Lord Chancellor Sir William Jowitt. The American delegation was headed by the Supreme Court Justice of the United States Robert H. Jackson , the French by the Justice of the Paris Cour de cassation Robert Falco . The Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court Iona Nikittschenko was head of the Soviet and Crown Prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross of the British delegation.

The London Statute was signed by the USA, the Soviet Union and Great Britain, but also by the Provisional Government of the French Republic. It provided the possibility of membership for other United Nations countries . The four signatory powers also each appointed a judge for the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, who led the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals .


The statute provided that an International Military Tribunal should be established to try and punish major war criminals of the European Axis powers . In particular, he should have the right to try any person who, individually, as a member of an organization or group, has committed the following crimes:

Two of these categories were not previously codified penal norms of international law . “Crimes against peace” meant planning, initiating and conducting a war of aggression , as well as participating in a common plan or a conspiracy to do so. "Crimes against humanity" were defined as those measures which were directed against the civilian population of a country apart from acts of war. This included the murder, enslavement and deportation of civilians, persecution for political, racist or religious reasons.

The statute also stipulated that an official position should neither be an obstacle to penalties nor mitigate offenses. This established the criminal liability of government officials. The execution of criminal orders was also made punishable , although the Military Court was given a margin of discretion to classify the duty of obedience as mitigating the penalty.

From a procedural point of view, the statute largely adopted Anglo-Saxon legal tradition . Corresponding regulations on procedural rules in the statute made it possible for the court to fall back on minutes of the prosecution from the interrogation of witnesses and persons providing information (so-called affidavits ). These people did not have to be heard by the court themselves. The judges could reject evidence if it seemed "irrelevant" to them. Not only were these regulations intended to ensure that the trials were carried out quickly, but the accused were also to be deprived of the opportunity to prolong the trial by alleging that the Allies had also committed war crimes (" tu quoque ").

In addition, they were able to produce their own evidence to exonerate them and cross-examine witnesses. According to Art. 26, the judgment was final and incontestable.

The statute was also the basis for the Finnish legal system, which was passed by the Finnish parliament on September 11, 1945 and made war guilt trials possible in Finland.

Web links


  1. ^ Statute for the International Military Court of August 8, 1945 , University of Marburg, accessed on May 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Gerhard Werle , Völkerstrafrecht , 3rd edition, Tübingen 2012, Rn. 15th
  3. ^ Greece, Denmark, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Abyssinia, Australia, Honduras, Norway, Panama, Luxembourg, Haiti, New Zealand, India, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay joined the agreement.
  4. See Art. 19 of the Statute of the International Military Tribunal.
  5. Annette Weinke , The Nuremberg Trials , Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-53604-2 , p. 22 f.