Tom Joad

For Those Who Seek Peace and Justice

Nuremberg Principles

Individuals have International Duties which Transcend National Obligations of Obedience

To choose to refuse orders, to not cooperate with established authority, carries legal and personal risk.  For those in the military this is especially true.  Such action should be done only after much careful reflection, and exploration of the consequences of a chosen path of resistance.  We hope that people who are considering such actions take full advantage of the resources available to them. 
There are also risks associated with obeying orders that fall outside what is acceptable by the standards of international law, or to participate in a war of aggression, such as the brutal U.S. occupation of Iraq.  We urge people to consider this as well, especially those within the U.S. military.  The following comes from the principles developed after the trial of Nazi war criminals, and is now considered to be part of international law and the standard under which the actions of nations, and the individuals that act under orders of national leaders, are to be judged. 

The Nuremberg Principles.

Principle I. Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.
Principle II. 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.
Principle III. 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 law.
Principle IV. 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.
Principle V. Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.
Principle VI. The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b) War Crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave-labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or 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.
(c) Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane 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.
Principle VII. Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

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