biological experiments

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Generally, biological experiments are experiments conducted on people without their consent; however, they defined contextually based on what is occurring in the present situation. For instance, in Perez v. Sharp, the forced sterilization of criminals was considered a biological experiment. That said, subjecting people to biological experiments without consent, when perpetrated in an armed conflict, is a war crime punishable by the International Criminal Court. A prosecution for biological experiments must show the following elements:

  • One or more persons were subjected to a particular biological experiment
  • The experiment seriously endangered the physical or mental health or integrity of the victims
  • The intent of the experiment was not medically justified nor in the interest of the victim
  • The victims were protected under the Geneva Conventions of 1949
  • The conduct was associated with an international armed conflict

See e.g., The Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law; The Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]