International Crimes and Case Demarcation: What Are We Trying to Prove?

50 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2014 Last revised: 5 Jan 2016

Elinor Fry

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 3, 2014


Cases involving international crimes are difficult to demarcate. Who did what to whom, when and where exactly? War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide generally occur on a massive scale over a prolonged period of time involving many different perpetrators at various levels of command and resulting in copious amounts of victims. This often leads to vague indictments and confusion of different types of facts and evidence. Since the indictment is the core document providing notice to the accused, it is of paramount importance to ensure charges are specific, and material facts, upon which the case’s outcome depends critically, are distinguished from subsidiary facts and background information. This article addresses these issues of vague charges and evidentiary imprecision from new angles, being mindful of the fact that the accused’s right to know the case against him or her embodies the essence of a fair trial: the right to defend oneself.

Keywords: international crimes, case demarcation, indictment, specificity of charges, material facts, subsidiary facts, evidence

Suggested Citation

Fry, Elinor, International Crimes and Case Demarcation: What Are We Trying to Prove? (November 3, 2014). Florida Journal of International Law, volume 27, 2 (2015), p. 163-212. Available at SSRN: or

Elinor Fry (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam

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