June 1, 2010
World leaders could face prosecution for ‘state aggression’
World leaders could face prosecution for acts of state aggression — potentially including the invasion of Iraq — under calls for the International
Criminal Court to extend its powers.
Britain and the US are among nations wary of such a move. The change would make “manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations” an
indictable offence at the court, which currently prosecutes those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. There are fears
that the move could intensely politicise the work of the fledgeling ICC in The Hague, making it harder for the court to gain the international
recognition and confidence it needs.
The issue is expected to dominate a gathering in Kampala of delegates from most of the 111 signatories to the ICC, to review its working practices
eight years after it was founded. There were also calls yesterday for universal acceptance of the ICC. Of the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, three — the US, China and Russia — are yet to endorse the court.
Adding the crime of state aggression to the ICC’s remit “would be a significant step forward in the development of international law and an
important extension of the court’s jurisdiction”, said Christian Wenaweser, president of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC, meeting in the
He added that the Security Council should be the first body to determine whether state aggression had taken place. Some pressure groups think that
this would compromise the court’s independence. While the definition of what constitutes an act of aggression has been hotly contested, the key is
who decides when the criteria are met.Human Rights Watch said that it had “long opposed control of any crime within the court’s jurisdiction by
external bodies because it would undermine the ICC’s judicial independence”.
Harold Koh, of the US State Department, argued that widening the court’s remit “could divert the ICC from its core mission and politicise this
young institution”. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Britain thought it too soon for the ICC to expand its role but that if this happened
the assessment of acts of aggression should be made by the Security Council.
The ICC was set up as a court of last resort, acting when national courts cannot or fail to do so, in issues of grave international concern. Only two
trials have started, with defendants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a third trial to start next month. Omar al-Bashir, sworn in again last
week as President of Sudan, was indicted in 2008.
Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, opened the summit yesterday, urging all states to sign up and welcoming the presence of an observer from the
US. “Under the leadership of President Obama, I understand the United States is very seriously reviewing all of its policies and I do hope the US
will join the ICC as soon as possible,” he said.
— The International Criminal Court, the first permanent main court to try individuals for human rights violations, came into force in 2002. It is
recognized by 111 nations but not the United States, Russia or China
— The court has the power to try cases if the crime was committed within the territory of a member state or if the UN Security Council refers the
case to the court
— In 2005 the Security Council voted to put war crimes cases in Darfur to the ICC for the first time
— The Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga became the first person to be tried by the ICC, in January last year, charged with conscripting child
soldiers. The case continues.
Who's first? Bush Jr. & Sr, Obama, Netanyahu, and ??
Well if this passed, and enforced welcome to the NWO. No I don't think that it will be recognized by the US, Russia and China.