Principles of the
Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950
Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the
Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Adopted by the
International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950.
Introductory note: Under the United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 177 (II), paragraph (a), the International Law Commission
was directed to "formulate the principles of international law
recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the
judgment of the Tribunal." In the course of the consideration of
this subject, the question arose as to whether or not the Commission
should ascertain to what extent the principles contained in the
Charter and judgment constituted principles of international law. The
conclusion was that since the Nuremberg Principles had been affirmed
by the General Assembly, the task entrusted to the Commission was not
to express any appreciation of these principles as principles of
international law but merely to formulate them. The text below was
adopted by the Commission at its second session. The Report of the
Commission also contains commentaries on the principles (see Yearbook
of the International Law Commission, 1950, Vol. II, pp. 374-378).
Authentic text: English Text published in Report of the
International Law Commission Covering its Second Session, 5 June-29
Duly 1950, Document A/1316, pp. 11-14.
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under
international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.
The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which
constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person
who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime
under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government
official does not relieve him from responsibility under international
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.
Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to
a fair trial on the facts and law.
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under;
- Crimes against peace:
- Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances;
- Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the
accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
- War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not
limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or
for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied
territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on
the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private
property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or
devastation not justified by military necessity.
- Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman
acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on
political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or
such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection
with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a
crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under