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War crimes justice

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The legal framework to prosecute war crimes and prohibit the use of ‘aggressive war’ came out of the international war crimes tribunals after WWII – in Germany and Japan. In Judgement at Tokyo the academic and writer Gary J. Bass retells the dramatic courtroom battles as Japan’s militaristic leaders were held accountable for their crimes. With prosecutors and judges drawn from eleven different Allied countries tensions flared, and justice in the Asia Pacific played out amidst the start of the Cold War, China's descent into civil war, and the end of the European empires.

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt witnessed the end of the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963, coining the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ – a term that is often mistakenly believed to mean that evil had become ordinary. In We Are Free To Change The World, the writer Lyndsey Stonebridge explores Arendt’s writings on power and terror, love and justice, and their relevance in today’s uncertain times.

As the world grows increasingly turbulent war crimes justice is needed more than ever, but it appears to be failing. Since the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands opened in 2002 it has jailed just five war criminals. The journalist and war reporter Chris Stephen looks back at its history and examines alternative options in The Future of War Crimes Justice.

Producer: Katy Hickman

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