International Criminal Court: Breakthrough on Crime of Aggression
In a historic development, states parties to the treaty for an International Criminal Court (ICC) recently incorporated the crime of aggression in the mandate of the Court.
Review Conference 2010
At an ICC treaty review conference May 31 to June 11, 2010 in Uganda, the 111 states parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC agreed on the definition of the crime of aggression and made decisions about how the ICC would exercise its jurisdiction.
"Up to now, the International Criminal Court has focused on the most egregious crimes of international concern, prosecuting individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. But now the spotlight is shifting,” says Warren Allmand, former President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and current President of the World Federalist Movement - Canada. “The capacity to prosecute aggression strengthens the ICC as an important instrument for international peace and security.”
Rule of Law Advanced
Historically, the determination of the existence of aggression has been the sole responsibility of the United Nations Security Council, which is empowered under the UN Charter to “maintain international peace and security.” However, the Council has frequently failed to take action in the face of aggression. The fact that its five permanent members (U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia – also the world’s five largest arms exporters) can veto Security Council decisions means that agreement on effective action to maintain peace and security has often proved elusive.
“Now, aggression is no longer a ‘political crime,’” says Allmand. “This is a tremendous advance for the rule of law.”
The crime of aggression will not be prosecutable before 2017, and will also require thirty country ratifications as well as an additional vote by the states parties to the treaty to bring the amendment into effect. However, the agreement on a comprehensive definition of aggression, something which has eluded the UN for over 60 years, will allow national courts to incorporate this crime properly into national laws, and will serve as a benchmark for all to judge the action of potential transgressors. It will also provide added incentive for more states to join the ICC treaty.
"Canada should be among the first to ratify this amendment and we can use our good offices to rally consensus toward implementation," says Allmand. "Canadians should be very proud of our significant contributions over the years to the creation and development of the International Criminal Court."
Anniversary Event - Review Conference Q & A
World Day for International Justice is celebrated each year on July 17, the anniversary of the adoption in 1998 of the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court. On Friday16 July 2010 from 4 to 5 p.m. CET (10-11 a.m. EST), the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), a civil society network of 2,500 organizations in 150 countries, will host a live question and answer session with CICC Convenor, William R. Pace. See the Coalition’s blog at http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/blog for details. Mr. Pace will answer questions on the Rome Statute system, and reflect on key outcomes of the recent ICC Review Conference.