Following World War II the Allied Powers pledged to criminally prosecute those responsible for the commission of War Crimes. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials were followed by a series of national and multinational prosecutions of German and Japanese civilian and military officials. These judgments established the foundation for the development of international criminal law and elaborated on the elements of criminal responsibility and proof. The most confused and contentious area of international criminal law concerns the character and scope of criminal defenses. Curiously, scant scholarly attention has been devoted to this topic which has been characterized as "a vast terra incognita."
Matthew Lippman, Conundrums of Armed Conflict: Criminal Defenses to Violations of the Humanitarian Law of War, 15 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 1 (1996).