War crimes refers to violations of the laws or customs of war; including murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps; or the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the killing of hostages, the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, or any devastation caused without any justification by military, or any civilian necessity.
Crimes against humanity refer to exceptionally odious offences constituting any serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They may usually be a part of some government policy, where the perpetrators may or may not identify themselves with this policy, or it may consist of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Isolated inhumane acts of Murder; extermination; torture; rape and political, racial, or religious persecution may constitute grave infringements of human rights, but may fall short of being categorized as a crime against humanity.
The United Nations has been primarily responsible for the prosecution of crimes against humanity since it was chartered in 1948. UN Security Council Resolution 1674 reaffirms the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The resolution commits the Council to protect civilians in armed conflict.
In 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in Hague by the United Nations and the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court provides for the ICC to have jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.