war crime

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From war +‎ crime.[1]



war crime (plural war crimes)

  1. (criminal law, international law) A punishable offence under international law for violations of the laws of war by any person or persons, military or civilian.
    Coordinate terms: crime against humanity, genocide, atrocity
    • 1906, L[assa Francis Lawrence] Oppenheim, “Means of Securing Legitimate Warfare”, in International Law: A Treatise, volumes II (War and Neutrality), London, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green, and Co. [], →OCLC, part II (War), section IV (Punishment of War Crimes), § 251, pages 263–264:
      [W]ar crimes are such hostile or other acts of soldiers or other individuals as may be punished by the enemy on capture of the offenders. [] [A]lthough among the acts called war crimes are many which, such as abuse of a flag of truce or assassination of enemy soldiers for instance, are crimes in the moral sense of the term, there are others which, such as taking part in a levy en masse on territory occupied by the enemy for instance, may be highly praiseworthy patriotic acts. Because every belligerent can and actually must in the interest of his own safety punish these acts, they are termed war crimes, whatever may be the motive, the purpose, and the moral character of the respective act.
    • 1914, J[ames] E[dward] Edmonds, L[assa Francis Lawrence] Oppenheim, “The Laws and Usages of War on Land”, in Hugh Godley, editor, Manual of Military Law, 6th edition, London: War Office; His Majesty’s Stationery Office, published 1917, →OCLC, page 302:
      [Paragraph] 441. The term "War Crime" is the technical expression for such an act of enemy soldiers and enemy civilians as may be visited by punishment or capture of the offenders. [] [Paragraph] 442. War crimes may be divided into four different classes:– (i) Violations of the recognized rules of warfare by members of the armed forces. (ii) Illegitimate hostilities in arms committed by individuals who are not members of the armed forces. (iii) Espionage and war treason. (iv) Marauding.
    • 1942 October 7, John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon, “[Collective Notes Presented to the Governments of Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. and Relative Correspondence] Statement of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords”, in Punishment for War Crimes, New York, N.Y.: United Nations Information Office, published [1943], →OCLC, page 30:
      If, this time, there is going to be, after the victory of the United Nations, due punishment of these abominable war crimes, perpetrated in breach of the laws of war by enemy nations and for which enemy individuals must be held responsible, it would be a grave mistake to concern ourselves at this stage merely with the discussion of the most appropriate tribunals to deal with such charges, or with the minutiae of juridical analysis.
    • 2012 October 16, Brett Kavanaugh, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, “Hamdan v. United States [No. 11-1257]”, in West’s Federal Reporter: Cases Argued and Determined in the United States Courts of Appeals (3d Series)‎[1], volume 696, St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co., →ISSN, →OCLC, paragraph 66, page 1251:
      To be sure, there is a strong argument that aiding and abetting a recognized international-law war crime such as terrorism is itself an international-law war crime. And there are other similar war crimes.
    • 2015, Mariam M. Kurtz, Mwamini Thambwe Diggs, “Wartime Rape: A Case Study of the Democratic Republic of Congo”, in Mariam M. Kurtz, Lester R. Kurtz, editors, Women, War, and Violence: Topography, Resistance, and Hope, volume 1, Santa Barbara, Calif., Denver, Colo.: Praeger Security International, ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 193:
      To deal with war crime such as rape a mobile court system was created in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo].
    • 2020 June 21, “Drachinifel” [pseudonym], “The Drydock” (6:33 from the start), in YouTube[2], episode 099, archived from the original on 2022-08-08:
      The two primary ones are that by the time anyone bothered to codify rules of war, lighthouses went on the list of "do not attack" pretty much immediately, and so it would be a rather pointless war crime to commit; the second reason is related to why they went on the list of "do not attack" targets very quickly, and that is that lighthouses are completely nondiscriminatory as to who they alert to what's going on in terms of danger and coastlines and hidden rocks and such []
    • 2022 March 17, Aditya Chakrabortty, “Western values? They enthroned the monster who is shelling Ukrainians today”, in Katharine Viner, editor, The Guardian[3], London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-06-14:
      Condoleezza Rice pops up on Fox to be told by the anchor: "When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime." With a solemn nod, the former secretary of state to George Bush replies: "It is certainly against every principle of international law and international order."

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ war crime, n.” under “war, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2023; “war crime, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]