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In the immediate aftermath of the armistice that ended the First World War, the Allied nations of Britain, France, and Italy agreed to put the fallen German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II on trial, in what would be the first ever international criminal tribunal. In Britain, Lloyd George campaigned for re-election on the slogan 'hang the Kaiser', but the Italians had only lukewarm support for a trial, and there was outright resistance from the United States. During the Peace Conference, international lawyers gathered for the first time to debate international criminal justice. They recommended trial of the Kaiser by an international tribunal for war crimes, and the Americans relented, agreeing to a trial for a 'supreme offence against international morality'. However, the Kaiser had fled to the Netherlands where he obtained asylum, and though the Allies threatened a range of measures if the former Emperor was not surrendered, the Dutch refused and the demands were dropped in March 1920.


William A. Schabas, has been called 'the world expert on the law of genocide and international law.' He is Professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at Leiden University, distinguished visiting faculty at Sciences Po in Paris, and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. He is the author of more than twenty books in the fields of human rights and international criminal law. He drafted the 2010 and 2015 United Nations quinquennial reports on the death penalty and was a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Professor Schabas is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 2007.

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