Wednesday, June 16, 2010

International Criminal Court / Crime of Aggression

ICC Adds Aggression to List of Crimes Despite US Opposition
By Jenna Greene
The National Law Journal (on, June 15, 2010
"In a move that international lawyers describe as 'a giant leap,' members of the International Criminal Court agreed to add aggression to the court's short list of prosecutable crimes. The United States opposed the resolution, but as a non-member of the eight-year-old court, had no ability to block the adoption. Still, it was notable that the United States even showed up for the debate. State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh and Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp led a sizeable US delegation to a two-week meeting in Kampala, Uganda. It ended early in the morning on Saturday with the consensus adoption of the definition of aggression and mechanisms for triggering an investigation. The resolution will not go into effect until at least 2017, and the court has no jurisdiction to bring aggression chares against nationals from non-ICC member countries, which include the US, Russia and China.
Even member countries have a way to opt-out. The ICC is intended as a court of last resort to punish crimes that shock the conscience -- genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and now aggression -- when there is no ability to do so at the national level. ... The ICC delegates defined aggression as a 'crime committed by a political or military leader which, by its character, gravity and scale constituted a manifest violation of the Charter.' The United Nations Security Council will have the main responsibility for determining if an act of aggression has occurred. To Rapp, who previously served as Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, the definition of aggression is 'exceptionally vague.' It's 'not a war of aggression, like we prosecuted at Nuremberg, but a crime of aggression that could make any sort of border conflict into a case that would cause the indictment of chiefs of state,' he said in a video blog from Kampala posted on the International Justice Central website. 'We want to make sure the institution grows responsibility and does not become politically motivated.' In a transcript of a June 2 press briefing from the meeting, Koh compared the court to a 'wobbly bicycle that's just starting to get its legs and roll forward, and the question is whether to add a crime of aggression at this moment might put too much weight on it and transform the nature of its mandate.' [...]"

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Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ