November 26, 1968
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations
to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession
by General Assembly resolution 2391 (XXIII) of 26 November 1968
entry into force 11 November 1970, in accordance with article VIII
Status of ratifications
The States Parties to the present Convention,
Recalling resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations 3 (1) of 13 February 1946 and 170 (11) of 31 October 1947 on the extradition and punishment of war criminals, resolution 95 (1) of 11 December 1946 affirming the principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Nurnberg, and the judgement of the Tribunal, and resolutions 2184(XXI) of 12 December 1966 and 2202(XXI) of 16 December 1966 which expressly condemned as crimes against humanity the violation of the economic and political rights of the indigenous population on the one hand and the policies of apartheid on the other,
Recalling resolutions of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations 1074 D (XXXIX) of 28 July 1965 and 1158 (XLI) of 5 August 1966 on the punishment of war criminals and of persons who have committed crimes against humanity,
Noting that none of the solemn declarations, instruments or conventions relating to the prosecution and punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity made provision for a period of limitation,
Considering that war crimes and crimes against humanity are among the gravest crimes in international law,
Convinced that the effective punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity is an important element in the prevention of such crimes, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the encouragement of confidence, the furtherance of co-operation among peoples and the promotion of international peace and security,
Noting that the application to war crimes and crimes against humanity of the rules of municipal law relating to the period of limitation for ordinary crimes is a matter of serious concern to world public opinion, since it prevents the prosecution and punishment of persons responsible for those crimes,
Recognizing that it is necessary and timely to affirm in international law, through this Convention, the principle that there is no period of limitation for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and to secure its universal application,
Have agreed as follows:
If any of the crimes mentioned in article I is committed, the provisions of this Convention shall apply to representatives of the State authority and private individuals who, as principals or accomplices, participate in or who directly incite others to the commission of any of those crimes, or who conspire to commit them, irrespective of the degree of completion, and to representatives of the State authority who tolerate their commission.
The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt all necessary domestic measures, legislative or otherwise, with a view to making possible the extradition, in accordance with international law, of the persons referred to in article 11 of this Convention.
The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, any legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that statutory or other limitations shall not apply to the prosecution and punishment of the crimes referred to in articles 1 and 2 of this Convention and that, where they exist, such limitations shall be abolished.
This Convention shall, until 31 December 1969, be open for signature by any State Member of the United Nations or member of any of its specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency, by any State Party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and by any other State which has been invited by the General Assembly of the United Nations to become a Party to this Convention.
This Convention is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
This Convention shall be open to accession by any State referred to in article 5. Instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Secretary- General of the United Nations.
This Convention, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall bear the date of 26 November 1968.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, being duly authorized for that purpose, have signed this Convention.
(Read the text of the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity from the web site of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.)