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.
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.
Statement Honoring the Legacy of Benjamin B. Ferencz: The Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression is deeply saddened to report that the Institute’s co-founder and President Emeritus Benjamin B. Ferencz died on April 7, 2023, at the age of 103. He was a tireless advocate for international criminal justice and the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Only recently, he received a US Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his service to the United States and the international community.
Born on March 11, 1920, in Transylvania, now modern day Romania, he soon fled from anti-Semitic persecution together with his parents and emigrated to the United States. Ben grew up in New York City, and in 1940, was awarded a scholarship to Harvard Law School where he graduated with honors.
After the onset of World War II, Ben enlisted in the United States Army in 1943, and joined an anti-aircraft artillery battalion preparing for the liberation of France. He fought in most of the major campaigns in Europe.
As Nazi atrocities were being uncovered, Ben was transferred to a newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army to gather evidence of war crimes that could be used to prosecute those responsible. Ben documented the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany, visiting concentration camps as they were liberated.
After the war, Ben became Chief Prosecutor for the United States in The Einsatzgruppen Case, which the Associated Press called “the biggest murder trial in history.” Twenty-two defendants were charged with murdering over a million people. He was only twenty-seven years old. It was his first case.
All of the defendants were convicted. Thirteen were sentenced to death. The verdict was hailed as a great success for the prosecution. Ben’s primary objective had been to establish a legal precedent that would encourage a more humane and secure world in the future.
Since the 1970s, Ben worked tirelessly to promote the development of international mechanisms to outlaw and punish crimes under international law, with a particular focus on the need to prosecute the crime of aggression (the leaders responsible for aggressive war-making). To this end, he published several books, such as “Defining International Aggression – The Search for World Peace” in 1975, the two-volume documentary history “An International Criminal Court-A Step Toward World Peace” in 1980, and two-volume book Enforcing International Law-A Way to World Peace in 1983.
With the end of the Cold War, the international community started to discuss the possibility of establishing an international criminal court in the 1990s. Active from the beginning, Ben participated in the Preparatory Commission sessions for the International Criminal Court, monitoring and making available his expertise on current efforts to define aggression. His efforts contributed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court and to the recognition of aggression within the ICC’s Rome Statute as an international crime.
Ben continued to mobilize support for the International Criminal Court, working tirelessly as part of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression to conclude the definition of the ICC’s crime of aggression and conditions for the ICC’s exercise of jurisdiction over the crime.
Throughout his work, Ben optimistically championed the goal of replacing the “rule of force with the rule of law.” He truly lived his main message “never give up” and gave speeches throughout the world until his death to promote international justice and the rule of law.
Ben will be sorely missed but his inspiration will live on. The Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression (co-founded by Ben’s son, Donald M. Ferencz) is deeply indebted to him for leaving behind such a rich legacy, and being such a kind and caring person, as well as an inspirational figure, to so many of its members. Above all, the Global Institute, in his memory, vows to continue to “never give up” until the crime of aggression can be more comprehensively prosecuted and the world can become a safer place.
UN General Assembly calls for immediate end to war in Ukraine: On 23 February 2023, hours before the conflict entered its second year, the UN General Assembly adopted by majority vote a resolution calling for an end to the war. 141 States voted in favor of the resolution. This is the third resolution in response to the war in Ukraine with a similarly strong majority vote.
For details, see here and:
Paragraph 9: “Emphasizes the need to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the national or international level, and ensure justice for all victims and the prevention of future crimes”