Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Practice Relating to Rule 160. Statutes of Limitation
In 1967, during a debate in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on the question of the punishment of war criminals and of persons who have committed crimes against humanity, the USSR stated:
6. In the whole history of criminal law there had never been a code or law envisaging the monstrous crimes committed by the Nazis. There could accordingly be no question of fixing a period of limitation for such crimes. It should also be noted that modern international law did not recognize the institution of statutory limitation. On the contrary, international law affirmed the principle of the non-applicability of statutory limitation to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and honest people the world over hoped that the United Nations would enshrine that principle in an international instrument, a convention. It was therefore the duty of the United Nations to draw up such a convention without delay
7. … The [UN] Secretary-General’s earlier study “Question of the non-applicability of statutory limitation to war crimes and crimes against humanity” … based on the relevant international instruments, national legislation, the doctrines of international law and international practice, clearly demonstrated the existence of the legal principle of the non-applicability of statutory limitation to war crimes and crimes against humanity … That the principle in question was not unknown in international law was demonstrated by various important documents, such as the London Declaration of 13 January 1942, the [1943 Moscow Declaration], the Potsdam Agreements of 1945, the [1945 London Agreement], the [1945 IMT Charter (Nuremberg)] and the [1946 IMT Charter (Tokyo)] … The same principle was embodied in various United Nations documents, including General Assembly resolutions 3 (I), 95 (I) and 170 (II), and it was not merely a fortuitous circumstance that none of them mentioned the possibility of statutory limitation in respect of such crimes.
8. The same principle of international law found expression in the domestic legislation of many countries – Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, France, Hungary, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, among others. It was also embodied in the domestic legislation of the Soviet Union; a decree by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union dated 4 March 1965 stipulated that war crimes and crimes against humanity were not subject to statutory limitation.
9. Her delegation considered that such precedents indicated quite clearly that the principle of the non-applicability of statutory limitation to war crimes had long been established and recognized in international law.