Crime of aggression under debate

02 June 2010 by Hermione Gee

The first International Criminal Court (ICC) Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda “is a chance to build the court into all that it can be and all that it must be,” United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon told delegates on Monday.

When the Rome Statute came into force in July 2002, it mandated a review conference seven years later to assess the work of the ICC and consider amendments to the Statute. On the agenda for the eight-day meeting are three proposed amendments: the deletion of article 124, an amendment to article 8 and a definition of the crime of aggression.

The first two amendments are uncontroversial but defining the crime of aggression is proving to be contentious. The battle lines drawn around the issue get to the heart of the court’s main political difficulty, namely its relationship to the UN Security Council, says William Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights.

“The permanent members of the Security Council want to retain a monopoly on determining whether...a case dealing with aggression should go before the ICC and they don’t appear to be willing to compromise on that. And it will be unacceptable for many other states to agree to a court where that decision is left with the Security Council.”

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