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…)
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.
Swiss Government launches consultation procedure on ratification of Kampala Amendments: The Swiss Government today launched a public consultation procedure, which is a necessary prerequisite for ratification of the Kampala Amendments. Switzerland took a key role in negotiations before and during the Review Conference in Kampala, including by submitting an important compromise proposal in Kampala, together with Argentina and Brazil (the famous “ABS proposal”). If approved, the ratification could take place in early 2015.
Government of Slovenia recommends ratification to Parliament: The Slovenian Government approved the Kampala amendments and sent the draft ratification bill to Parliament, which is expected to give its final approval in July (see the official press release in Slovenian). Already last year, Slovenia had incorporated the Kampala definition of the crime of aggression into its domestic criminal code.
Photo © mapsofworld.com
Uruguay to become first Latin American State to ratify: Today the Senate of Uruguay approved the Kampala Amendments. The instrument of ratification is expected to be deposited at the UN by mid-July. The Chamber of Deputies had already unanimously approved the ratification bill in April. Uruguay would thus be the first Latin American State to ratify the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression.
Dip. Felipe Michelini (Frente Amplio), Convenor of the Parliamentarians for Global Action’s International Law and Human Rights Programme stated in this context:
“The Kampala Amendments operationalise the aspirations to end aggression as provided by the Rome Statute. Sixty years after having ratified the London Agreements that provided the legal basis to the Nuremberg Tribunals, Uruguay continues its work in defense of human dignity through law, as law is what defines civilization and denies barbarie.”
Photo © Parliamentarians for Global Action
Botswana – first African State to ratify Kampala amendments: After the President of Botswana, Ian Khama, signed his country’s instrument of ratification at the opening of the workshop on the Kampala amendments for all African States Parties in April, the instrument has now been deposited by Ambassador Charles T. Ntwaagae with the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations. Botswana is the first African State Party and the seventh overall to ratify the amendments. Botswana’s Foreign Minister, P.T.C. Skelemani, has previously reminded African States that “the people of Africa aspire to live in a region free of the fear of aggression.” Botswana also promotes ratification in its region, which forms the largest constituency of the ICC. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser welcomes the continued leadership of Botswana on ICC issues and looks forward to continuing the close cooperation in the ratification campaign. After the ratification by Botswana, another 23 ratifications are needed to allow for the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2017.
Photo © United Nations / Win Khine
Germany ratifies crime of aggression amendments: On 3 June 2013, Guido Westerwelle, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany deposited his country’s instrument of ratification of the Kampala amendments with the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations. Germany, which had been instrumental for the inclusion of the Crime of Aggression in the Rome Statute, is the sixth State Party to ratify the amendments. Upon activation of the amendments in 2017, the ICC will be the first international court since the International Military Tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo to hold individuals responsible for the crime of aggression. It is by far the largest State to do so yet.
Photo © United Nations / Win Khine
Forum of Small States Briefed about Aggression Amendments: In their presentation to the 110-member strong Forum of Small States (FOSS), Christian Wenaweser and Donald M. Ferencz underscored the special relevance of the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression for small States, which are more likely to be the victims of acts of aggression. All 5 States that have ratified the Kampala amendments on the Crime of Aggression to date are members of FOSS, a fact that does not surprise Ambassador Wenaweser, who recalled that it was small States who led the charge for ratifications of the Rome Statute.
Crime of Aggression amendments enter into force: On 8 May 2013, the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression entered into force for the first State, Liechtenstein.
As they were adopted under article 121(5) of the Statute, the Crime of Aggression amendments enter into force for each ratifying State one year after the deposit of the instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Liechtenstein deposited its instrument of ratification on 8 May 2012, the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
Those interested in the legal fine print should make sure to distinguish entry into force and activation: The amendments have now entered into force for the first State Party. Next, the amendments need to be activated through the procedure contained in the amendments (which require 30 ratifications and a one-time activation decision by States Parties no earlier than 1 January 2017). It is thus not correct to state that the amendments will only enter into force in 2017! They have just entered into force, as can be seen on the SG’s depositary notification. But the Court can only exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression once this jurisdiction is activated as described above.
For more details, have a look at our Handbook.
Photo: Liechtenstein’s Ambassador Christian Wenaweser presents a copy of the Travaux Preparatoires of the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression to Patricia O’Brien, Legal Counsel of the United Nations. © United Nations / Win Khine
UN Secretary-General promotes ratification of Kampala Amendments: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a strong message of support to the Gaborone workshop on ratification and implementation of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC: “The achievement of Kampala has set the stage for a paradigm shift in international law and international relations”. He hoped that more States parties would ratify the amendment to facilitate their timely activation. He traced the history of the amendments through General Assembly Resolution 3314 to article 2(4) of the Charter, which prohibits the threat or use of force in international relations.
According to the Secretary-General, the United Nations supports efforts to promote ratification of the Kampala Amendments as well as their implementation, which would institutionalize the achievements of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals.
Here is the full text of the message, which was delivered by Zachary Muburi-Muita, Head of the UN Office to the African Union.