United Nations War Crimes Commission

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United Nations War Crimes Commission

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The United Nations War Crimes Commission was established on 20 October 1943, by a meeting of Government representatives of seventeen of the Allied Nations, including all of the major powers except the USSR at the Foreign Office in London. The first official meeting was held on 11 January 1944, and the Commission continued its work actively until the end of March 1948.

The Commission was primarily a fact-finding body of formulating and implementing general measures necessary to ensure the detection, apprehension, trial and punishment of persons accused of war crimes. It also performed valuable advisory functions in connection with the development of principles of international law and planning for international tribunals. Its terms of reference were as follows:

(i) To collect, investigate and record evidence of war crimes, identifying where possible the individuals responsible.
(ii) To report to the Governments concerned cases where the material available appeared to disclose a prima facie case
(iii) To act as a Committee of Legal Experts charged with advising the Governments concerned upon matters of a technical nature, such as the sort of tribunals to be employed in the trial of war criminals, the law to be applied, the procedure to be adopted and the rules of evidence to be followed.

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