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.


11 SEP 2022

Chautaqua Principles: The 14th annual International Humanitarian Law Roundtables held August 28-30, 2022, at Lake Chautauqua, New York, culminated in the issuance of the “Chautauqua Principles” (see here). They, inter alia, state:

Current Law and Existing Judicial Mechanisms are Insufficient to Adequately Secure Justice for the Crime of Aggression
In the judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg,…the crime of aggression was recognized as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” While the crime of aggression is defined in Article 8bis of the Rome Statute and represents customary international law, [in many situations] no competent judicial institutions have jurisdiction to prosecute those most responsible for this crime.  States should consider fixing this jurisdictional gap at the ICC.
    On February 24, 2022, nearly seventy-six years after the IMT’s landmark judgment, Russia launched an unlawful invasion of Ukraine.  Both national and international judicial systems need to prosecute those most responsible for the crime[] of aggression committed in Ukraine. International tribunal jurisprudence, which renders head of state immunity inapplicable regarding international crimes, including the crime of aggression, should inform their prosecution strategies. It is also essential that, in the event of its establishment, any tribunal or court addressing the unlawful invasion of Ukraine [be] fair, impartial, and not directed at any particular party or State.  Any new tribunal or court must adhere to a clear evidentiary standard of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
    There is an urgent need for a viable proposal for the creation of a competent international tribunal with appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute those bearing the greatest responsibility for the crime[] of aggression against the people of Ukraine. With that said, any domestic or international tribunal[‘s] work, including those exercising extraterritorial jurisdiction, should not diminish, but enhance the work of the ICC.
26 JUL 2022
Acknowledgment of the gravity of the crime of aggression by the US Senate: US Senate acknowledges that the ICC’s mandate includes prosecuting the crime of aggression – one of the “gravest crimes of concern to the international community.”  See here
22 JUL 2022

Proposal to Amend the Jurisdiction of the ICC over the Crime of Aggression: Since March 2022, Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) have elaborated a non-paper containing specific amendments to Article 15bis of the Rome Statute that would partially align the ICC jurisdictional regime on the crime of aggression to the one that already exists for the other three core crimes. For a summary of the non-paper, see here

28 MAY 2022

Virtual Roundtable of the Council on Foreign Relations: In Defense of a Democracy: Prosecuting Russian Aggression Against Ukraine: On 25 May 2022, David Scheffer, Oona Hathaway and Claus Kreß discussed the crime of aggression and the need for a special tribunal in the situation in Ukraine. To watch the panel, click here.



21 APR 2022

James Kingston Obituary: It is with enormous sadness that the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression reports the death of James Kingston. As a legal adviser of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and President of the Irish Branch of the International Law Association, he was a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court and the prohibition of aggression.

James joined the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in 1995 and became legal adviser in 2009. He advised on various matters, including EU law, human rights law and international criminal law and was instrumental in advising on some of the big foreign policy decisions in Ireland. His expertise in international law brought him to his position in the Irish Branch of the International Law Association where he served as President from 2016 to 2020. He lectured in public international law at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

James was a brilliant lawyer, an outstanding advocate for the rule of law and a good friend to many of us. His sudden death is a great loss for the international community.

We present our deepest condolences to his family.

07 MAR 2022

Repository of Documents Relevant to the Situation in Ukraine: The Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression has created a repository of documents relevant to the situation in Ukraine, such as applicable domestic criminal laws as well as resolutions and statements of international organizations.

24 FEB 2022

Statement of the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression on the Situation in Ukraine: Article 2(4) of the United Nations (“U.N.”) Charter is the cornerstone of the rules-based international order—the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

With the sending of Russian forces into the sovereign territory of Ukraine, the Russian Federation has acted in complete disregard for the prohibition of the use of force under the U.N. Charter and customary international law.  Pretextual invocations that purport to suggest a legal basis must be seen for what they are:  a perversion of international law.  There is no legal justification for any use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of Ukraine.  The Russian use of force constitutes an act of aggression, and can amount to the crime of aggression, with cyber-attacks potentially forming part of the modality of its commission. 

U.N. Member States must stand united in condemning this flagrant and dangerous violation of international law and ensure that the U.N. Charter is enforced, including rallying in support of the laws and norms against the aggressive use of force.  Additionally, U.N. Member States must decline to recognize any “new states” purportedly “created” through such illegal acts that violate jus cogens norms. 

Our thoughts are with all those impacted by this unlawful act, and especially the people of Ukraine and the soldiers on both sides who should not be forced to fight or die in the service of an illegal war.     

 – Jennifer Trahan, Convenor

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