Our purpose: Promoting peace through criminal justice – preventing crimes of aggression

Through the United Nations Charter, virtually all States in the world have expressed their commitment “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. They have agreed to renounce the illegal threat or use of force, and to settle their disputes “by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”. States have the legal duty to abide by this commitment (more…)

and the UN Security Council has the primary responsibility to enforce it.The Nuremberg Trials made it clear that criminal justice also has an important role to play for the promotion of peace and the deterrence of acts of aggression – though it remained limited and theoretical for many decades thereafter. With the 2010 Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the promotion of peace through criminal justice has gained new momentum. States Parties to the ICC decided to empower the Court to hold leaders accountable who are responsible for the most serious forms of the illegal use of force against other States at the 2010 Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda.
They adopted a definition of the crime of aggression, which is also expected to be incorporated into many domestic criminal codes. They thus created a new mechanism to enforce the most important rule of international law: the prohibition of the illegal use of force under the United Nations Charter. 30 ratifications, as well as a further decision by States Parties in 2017, are required for the ICC take up this new function. This website is dedicated to making this new accountability mechanism a reality.

News

09 MAR 2016

Legal scholars debate crime of aggression amendments: Last week, Professors Claus Kreß and Harold Koh led a spirited discussion on some of the details of the Kampala Amendments in New York. They discussed the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2017, including the precise extent of the Court’s jurisdiction as well as the question of humanitarian intervention. Don’t miss the arguments raised by Stefan Barriga, Liechtenstein’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and co-drafter of the Kampala Amendments, at 1:01:15, as to how some of the concerns raised can be met with pragmatic solutions – especially in light of the fact that the amendments establish a very limited, consent-based jurisdictional regime. Carrie McDougall, Legal Adviser of the Australian Mission to the UN, at 1:10:15, noted that for those States that have ratified the amendments, there are no jurisdictional ambiguities – meaning that ratifying the amendments would help solve any remaining questions in this regard.

The International Criminal Court and the Crime of Aggression from German Center for Research and I on Vimeo.

03 MAR 2016

El Salvador ratifies amended version of the Rome Statute: On 3 March 2016, Hugo Roger Martinez Bonilla, Foreign Minister of El Salvador, deposited his country’s instrument of ratification of the amended Rome Statute. El Salvador thus became the first country to ratify the Statute and the Kampala Amendments at the same time – it will be the 124th State Party to the Rome Statute and the 28th State Party to the Kampala Amendments. El Salvador’s ratification once again underscores Latin America’s strong commitment to the International Criminal Court – all but one Central American States have now joined – all of South America is already within the Court’s jurisdiction. The Campaign is hopeful that future States joining the Rome Statute will follow El Salvador’s lead and ratify the amended Statute. With several other domestic ratification processes complete or nearing completion, we remain on track to achieve the milestone of 30 ratifications in the first half of this year.

Photo: Hugo Roger Martinez Bonilla, Foreign Minister of El Salvador deposits his country’s instrument of ratification. Stephen Mathias, Assistant-Secetary-General for Legal Affairs of the United Nations, receives the instrument.

01 MAR 2016

Macedonia ratifies Kampala Amendments, adopts implementing legislation: On 1 March 2016, Macedonia (FYROM) deposited its instrument of ratification of the Kampala Amendments with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Its parliament had approved both the ratification and the adoption of implementing legislation in early February. Macedonia is the 27th State Party to the Kampala Amendments. With several other domestic ratification processes complete or nearing completion, we remain on track to achieve the milestone of 30 ratifications in the first half of 2016.

11 FEB 2016

Proposal presented to implement Kampala Amendments in Panama: On 2 February 2016, the Bar Association of Panama presented a Draft Statute implementing the Kampala Amendments into the Panamanian Criminal Code to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Inclusion of the crime of aggression in the criminal code would be an important step towards the ratification of the amendments, a process on which Panama has been actively working (see our Status Report).

For more information, see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release (Spanish).

Photo:  President of the Bar Association of Panama presents draft Statute to for the implementation of the Kampala Amendments to the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. Courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama.

08 FEB 2016

Crime of aggression now outlawed in Austria: On 1 January 2016, Austria’s amended criminal code entered into force, for the first time defining the crime of aggression as an offence (article 321k). The definition of the crime is based in large parts on the definition of Kampala. The crime of aggression is punishable in Austria with a prison term of five to ten years, provided that the crime either originates in Austria or has Austria as its target. The code also allows for the prosecution of crimes of aggression committed without such a link, provided the perpetrator is found on Austrian territory and cannot be extradited for criminal prosecution.

The current version of the Austrian criminal code is available online  (German).

28 JAN 2016

Finland 26th State to ratify the Kampala Amendments: On 31 December 2015, Finland deposited its instrument of ratification of the Kampala Amendments. It is the first Nordic country to ratify the amendments. This means that we need four more ratifications to achieve the milestone of 30 in the course of this year.

Photo: United Nations/Win Khine. Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, Jouni Laaksonen, meeting with the Chief of the UN Treaty Section Santiago Villalpando on 28 January 2016.

07 JAN 2016

To close the impunity gap, Benjamin B. Ferencz calls for prosecutions of aggressive war making as crimes against humanity: Writing in the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, former Nuremberg Prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz offers a way to close the impunity gap on the illegal use of armed force by prosecuting it domestically as a crime against humanity. In his article entitled “The illegal use of armed force as a crime against humanity,” he encourages all States to ratify the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute, but, beyond that, to also, in exercising their domestic jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, to include the illegal use of force as an “other inhumane act.” Especially in today’s interconnected world and what he perceives as the obsolescence of absolute notions of sovereignty, Mr. Ferencz contends that a more law-centric approach is needed to counter the war-centric logic.

The complete article is accessible on the website of the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law (subscription). A free-to-access HTML version is also available in English, French and Spanish. You can also find out more about the illegal use of force as crime against humanity on our website.

07 DEC 2015

Lithuania 25th State to ratify Kampala Amendments: On 7 December 2015, Raimonda Murmokaitė, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the UN deposited her country’s instrument of ratification of the Kampala Amendments. The date was symbolic, as it was the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sebastiano Cardi, Vice President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute witnessed the event. All three Baltic States have now ratified the amendments. The Eastern European region as a whole also continues its leadership role in the ratification of the Kampala Amendments: half of all Eastern European States Parties have now ratified the amendments, with the remainder having pledged to do so soon. With several other domestic ratification processes complete or nearing completion, we remain on track to achieve the milestone of 30 ratifications in 2016.

Photo: United Nations/Win Khine

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