Defining International Aggression
The Search for World Peace

Document XXXII

Mr. Justice JACKSON. I want to say I am entirely in sympathy with the purpose of the Soviet Delegation in suggesting this sentence, although I could not be happy at the use of the sentence as it is. I think we should give a little thought to whether this purpose can be accomplished by some other means. There is a very real danger of this trial being used, or of an attempt being made to use it, for propaganda purposes, and I should like to make a suggestion as to what seems to me a weakness in the original American proposal that would help overcome this difficulty. It seems to me that the chief way in which the Germans can use this forum as a means for disseminating propaganda is by accusing other countries of various acts which they will say led them to make war defensively. That would be ruled out of this case if we could find and adopt proper language which would define what we mean when we charge a war of aggression. Language has been used in a number of treaties which defines aggression and limits it in such a way that it would prevent their making these counteraccusations which would take lots of time and cause lots of trouble. It seems to me that, if we make a study of treaties which have defined "war of aggression", we can confine our charge against them to a physical act of attack—and that is the crime, the attack. We might consider one or two definitions used heretofore.

Sir David Maxwell FYFE. In preparation for paragraph 6.

Mr. Justice JACKSON. Yes, I think it should go in paragraph 6, but it limits the possibility of propaganda. For example, here is a definition used in the treaty signed at London on July 3, 1933, by Afghanistan, Estonia, Latvia, Persia, Poland, Rumania, Turkey and the U.S.S.R., which was apparently worked out with great care:

    "Article II. Accordingly, the aggressor in an international conflict shall, subject to the agreements in force between the Parties to the dispute, be considered to be that State which is the first to commit any of the following actions:

    "1. Declaration of war upon another State;

    "2. Invasion by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State;

    "3. Attack by its land, naval or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, on the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State;

    "4. Naval blockade of the coasts or ports of another State;

    "5. Provision of support to armed bands formed in its territory which have invaded the territory of another State, or refusal, notwithstanding the request of the invaded State, to take, in its own territory, all the measures in its power to deprive those bands of all assistance or protection.

    "Article III. No political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse or justification for the aggression referred to in Article II. (For examples, see Annex.)"

These definitions would foreclose what they are apt to attempt because they are going to say for propaganda purposes, "It is true we made an attack, but there are political and economic situations which were our justifications." And that may have to be litigated. There are other treaties which we could consult for perhaps other definitions. We will try to get them all together and think it would be helpful.

Sir David Maxwell FYFE. I am very grateful to Mr. Justice Jackson and am sure it will be helpful to have them to consider.

Has anyone anything on 18 (c)? Then 19 or 20.

Source: Report of Robert H. Jackson, United States Representative to the International Conference on Military Trials : London, 1945, International Organisation and Conference Series II, European and British Commonwealth 1, Department of State Publication 3080, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1949, pp. 273-274.
Editorial Note: This is a true copy of an extract (pp. 273-274) of the above-referenced original document. This document is reproduced in Benjamin B. Ferencz's work "Defining International Aggression - The Search for World Peace", Vol. 1, as Document No. 18 (e)

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Published online by Equipo Nizkor - 26 March 2013