Our purpose: Promoting peace through criminal justice – preventing crimes of aggression
Through the United Nations Charter, States 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 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, States Parties 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. This website is dedicated to making accountability a reality.
GIPA Proposal to Amend Article 15bis of the Rome Statute: The Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression hereby publishes a proposal for the amendment of the conditions under which the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The proposal has been thoroughly discussed among experts on the crime of aggression and has the objective of bringing the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression into line with the Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The proposal contains model amendments, as well as a resolution ready to be adopted by the Assembly of States Parties, and an explanation of the proposed amendments.
Conference Room Paper of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine: On 29 August 2023, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine published a report in which it made recommendations on proposed accountability measures and expressed its support for the creation of a tribunal for the crime of aggression as well as efforts to amend the Rome Statute to allow for broader jurisdiction of the crime of aggression (para. 946).
It identified the need for establishing a special tribunal since “there is currently no international court with jurisdiction to undertake this necessary accountability measure” and taking into account evidence relating to acts of aggression in ICC proceedings as context of other ICC Statute crimes or as an aggravating circumstance would “not fully reflect the gravity of the crime of aggression as such, which is a separate crime, different from the three other crimes” (paras 924, 925, 946).
It assessed existing proposals for a special tribunal for the crime of aggression, namely (1) the Chatham House Proposal based on States granting jurisdiction to a dedicated tribunal as well as (2) the Yale Club Proposal and (3) the Proposal by the Ukraine Task Force of the Global Accountability Network, both based on the involvement of the UN General Assembly requesting the establishment of such a tribunal (paras 927-934).
The Commission of Inquiry made recommendations for the on-going reflection process of States, inter alia, that (1) “a certain degree of cooperation and coordination” may be advisable between the ICC and a possible special tribunal, that (2) a revision of Article 15bis of the Rome Statute to cover nationals of Non-States Parties “could limit criticism based on selectivity”, that (3) “a sufficient number of globally dispersed States should support the establishment of a special tribunal” to address legitimacy concerns and that (4) a new tribunal must be “independent, impartial and observe all fair trial rights” (paras 936-945).
Niger becomes 45th State to ratify Kampala amendments: On 14 April 2023, Niger deposited its instrument of ratification of the Kampala amendments, becoming the 45th State to ratify the amendments on the crime of aggression.
On July 17, 2023, the Rome Statute celebrated its 25th anniversary. The same day marked the 5th anniversary of the activation of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The Assembly of States Parties to the ICC led commemorations at UN Headquarters in New York City. The all-day event included a tribute to co-founder of the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression and former Nuremberg prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz, along with others who had played key roles at Rome and have since passed away.
Extensive focus on the crime of aggression occurred both during the plenary celebrations as well as the ministerial level side-event, “The ICC and the Crime of Aggression: In Defense of the UN Charter,” co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Germany and Liechtenstein to the United Nations. Several states, including Austria, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland, expressed their interest in amending the Rome Statute to bring the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in line with the ICC’s jurisdiction over its other crimes. They also expressed the need for a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression in the situation in Ukraine.
For the video see here.
Nuremberg Declaration on the Crime of Aggression of 8 May 2023: The International Nuremberg Principles Academy following on a thorough deliberation on these matters with leading international law experts adopted a declaration in which it:
“Calls upon the international community to support the establishment of a tribunal to
prosecute crimes of aggression as defined under international law committed on the
territory of Ukraine,
Calls upon States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to amend the jurisdictional provisions governing the crime of aggression to align them with those applicable to the other crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”
For the full declaration, see here.
Nuremberg Academy Lectures on 4 May 2023: The International Nuremberg Principles Academy hosted a lecture on “The Ukraine War and the Crime of Aggression” and honored Benjamin Ferencz, former President emeritus of the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression, at the Nuremberg courtroom. There was also a moment of silence.
Coalition for International Criminal Justice – States Parties Should Strengthen the ICC’s Ability to Prosecute Aggression: Whilst establishing a special tribunal for the crime of aggression may address the current lacuna with respect to Russia’s attack on Ukraine,a sustainable solution appears to include a reversal of the Kampala compromise. For the full statement see here.