Crime against Law of the Nations Law and Legal Definition

Crime against law of the nations refers to crimes which all nations agree to punish. Such are murder and rape, among the civilized nations. In United States v. Smith, 18 U.S. 153, 163 (U.S. 1820), it was held that true definition of crime against law of the nations is the same in the civil and common law, as in the law of nations, namely, robbery upon the seas; and that, as such, it was punishable by the British Courts in virtue of their general concurrent jurisdiction on the seas.

No nation can privilege itself to commit a crime against the law of nations by a mere municipal regulation of its own. Crime against law of the nations is a crime punishable under international law. It is an act that is internationally agreed to be of a criminal nature, such as genocide, piracy or engaging in slave trade. It is also known as crime against international law.