- 1901 - 1961 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
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.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The records of the War Crimes Commission in the United Nations Archives consist of: minutes, documents and reports of the Commission and its Committees, the Research Office, the Far Eastern and Pacific Sub-Commission; further there are periodical lists of War Criminals, Suspects, Witnesses (including approximately 37,000 names) and related material of the main Commission and of the Far Eastern and Pacific Sub-Commission; documented is also some correspondence, mainly with various National Offices.
The more voluminous part of the documentation of the War Crimes Commission are records submitted by Member Governments, other National Authorities and Military Tribunals: some 8,000 charge files and related material; periodical lists of about 37,000 War Criminals, Security Suspects and Witnesses; reports of National Military Tribunals; transcripts of proceedings and documents of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
Finding aids in the form of indexes are part of the above enumerated records.
Fonds consists of the following Sub-fonds and Series:
AG-042-003 Reference Material
AG-042-002 Records submitted by Member Governments, other National Authorities and Military Tribunals
AG-042-001 Records created by the Commission, the Committees, the Research Office and the Far Eastern and Pacific Sub-Commission
S-1919 UNWCC - United Nations War Crime Commission Microfilm Tapes
S-1804 Records of the War Crimes Commission / Series no longer in use, see notes
S-0601 United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) records / (New Series "S-1848") / Please see notes.