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Despite the millions of crimes under international law committed since the guns fell silent in 1945 there were few criminal investigations or prosecutions - either in the states where the crimes occurred or abroad - for nearly four decades Indeed with respect to the obligation of states parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions to try or extradite people suspected of grave breaches the Director of Doctrine and Law of the International Committee of the Red Cross stated in 1986 that this jurisdiction has not to our knowledge been used and added in despair that universal jurisdiction for war crimes is as experience has shown of no practical value In 1995 he said that there had been few prosecutions for grave breaches Nevertheless the attitude of states to prosecution for war crimes crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law both based on territorial and universal or other forms of extraterritorial jurisdiction had already begun to change Starting with the 1980s there has been a renaissance in the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction over crimes under international law as a result of a number of factors First the renewed interest in pursuing prosecutions of crimes committed during the Second World War both on grounds of territorial and extraterritorial jurisdiction raised questions among the general public about why there had not been similar prosecutions with respect to contemporary crimes under international law The determination of some new democratic or transitional governments such as those in Argentina Bolivia Germany Hungary the Central African Republic Mali and Poland to bring to justice persons responsible for human rights violations in their own countries committed during previous governments was also a one of the reasons Perhaps the most decisive factor was pressure from victims or their families in exile on prosecuting authorities in their state of refuge to open criminal investigations In some countries victims or their families instituted the prosecutions themselves as parties civiles Crimes committed in Argentina
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