The phrase "crimes
against humanity" was first used in a strictly legal sense in the Nuremberg Charter.
Today, it generally refers to crimes that are so heinous they are of universal
concern. Crimes against humanity are specific acts of violence against persons
irrespective of their nationality or the group of which they are a part. They
are committed by a state or political organization and may occur in war or in
peace. All states have the right and duty to investigate and punish those who
commit crimes against humanity under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.