The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (usually referred to simply as the London Charter or Nuremberg Charter) was the decree issued on August 8, 1945, that set down the laws and procedures by which the Nuremberg trials were to be conducted.
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London Charter of the International Military Tribunal
The charter stipulated that crimes of the European Axis Powers could be tried. Three categories of crimes were defined: war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. The charter also stated that holding an official position was no defense to war crimes. Obedience to orders could only be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determined that justice so required.
The criminal procedure used by the Tribunal was closer to civil law than to common law, with a trial before a panel of judges rather than a jury trial and with wide allowance for hearsay evidence. Defendants who were found guilty could appeal the verdict to the Allied Control Council. In addition, they would be permitted to present evidence in their defense and to cross-examine witnesses.
The Charter was developed under the authority of the Moscow Declaration: Statement on Atrocities, which was agreed at the Moscow Conference (1943). It was drawn up in London, following the surrender of Germany on VE Day. It was drafted by Robert H. Jackson, Robert Falco, and Iona Nikitchenko of the European Advisory Commission, and issued on August 8, 1945.
The Charter and its definition of crimes against peace was also the basis of the Finnish law, approved by the Finnish parliament on 11 September 1945, that enabled the war-responsibility trials in Finland.