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Article

A Civil Society Perspective on the ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords crimes against humanity, impunity, aut dedere aut judicare, amnesties, reservations
Authors Hugo Relva
AbstractAuthor's information

    In a relatively short period of time, the International Law Commission has accomplished the impressive task of drafting and adopting the text of the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity. The Draft Articles circulated to states are promising. However, a number of substantive amendments appear to be necessary if the Draft Convention is to become a powerful tool “to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes”, as stated in the Preamble. Moreover, in order to avoid the rapid ossification of the new potential treaty, it is advisable for the articles to reflect the most significant developments in international law, and also allow for future progressive developments in the law, instead of reflecting a lowest common denominator acceptable to all states. This article suggests some revisions to existing provisions, new provisions which may make the text much stronger and finally identifies some important omissions which should be fixed by states at the time of adopting the Draft Convention.


Hugo Relva
Legal adviser, Amnesty International.
Article

The ILC Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity

An African Perspective

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Africa, norm creation, crimes against humanity, colonial crimes, official immunity
Authors Alhagi B.M. Marong
AbstractAuthor's information

    Africa’s contribution towards the development of the International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Articles should not be assessed exclusively on the basis of the limited engagement of African States or individuals in the discursive processes within the ILC, but from a historical perspective. When analysed from that perspective, it becomes clear that Africa has had a long connection to atrocity crimes due to the mass victimization of its civilian populations during the colonial and postcolonial periods and apartheid in South Africa. Following independence in the 1960s, African States played a leading role in the elaboration of legal regimes to deal with international crimes such as apartheid, or in the development of accountability mechanisms to respond to such crimes. Although some of these efforts proved unsuccessful in the end, the normative consensus that was generated went a long way in laying the foundations for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which, in turn, influenced the conceptual framework of the ILC Draft Articles. This article proposes that given this historical nexus, the substantive provisions and international cooperation framework provided for in the future crimes against humanity convention, Africa has more reasons to support than to oppose it when negotiations begin at the United Nations General Assembly or an international diplomatic conference.


Alhagi B.M. Marong
Senior Legal Officer, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Article

Why a Crimes Against Humanity Convention from a Perspective of Post-Soviet States?

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords crimes against humanity, criminal law, ICC Statute, implementation, post-Soviet States
Authors Sergey Sayapin
AbstractAuthor's information

    Most post-Soviet States have introduced penal responsibility for crimes against humanity, either explicitly or under alternative headings. As a rule, their respective criminal laws are modelled after relevant provisions of the Draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind or the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The International Law Commission’s adoption of the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity represents an appropriate occasion for post-Soviet States that have not yet penalized crimes against humanity to bring their criminal laws into fuller conformity with customary international criminal law.


Sergey Sayapin
LLB, LLM, Dr. iur., PhD, Associate Professor of International and Criminal Law and Director of the LLB. in International Law Programme at the School of Law, KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan).
Article

Gender and the ILC’s 2019 Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords gender, crimes against humanity, international criminal law, Rome Statute
Authors Indira Rosenthal and Valerie Oosterveld
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity document is the latest international instrument to address gender-based crimes under international law and the first to do so outside the context of international courts. The elaboration of a treaty on crimes against humanity provides a critical opportunity to affirm that gender-based crimes are among the gravest crimes under international law. This article examines discussions on the meaning of the term ‘gender’ under the ILC’s Draft Articles, with reference to the discussions two decades prior on the definition of ‘gender’ in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the basis for the Articles’ consideration of sexual and gender-based violence. It then turns to the ILC consultation process, and the 2019 discussion of the ILC’s Draft Articles in the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on the term ‘gender’. Additionally, it considers a number of concerns raised by States and civil society on the definition of some of the gender-based crimes included in the Draft Articles and concludes by arguing for a comprehensive gender analysis of all of the Draft Articles.


Indira Rosenthal
Indira Rosenthal, Independent Consultant, Gender, Law and Justice; PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania (Australia).

Valerie Oosterveld
Valerie Oosterveld, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law (Canada).

    The UN General Assembly established the International Law Commission (“ILC”) in 1947 to assist States with the promotion of 1) the progressive development of international law and 2) its codification. The ILC’s first assignment from the General Assembly was to formulate the Nuremberg Principles, which affirmed the then radical idea that individuals can be held liable for certain international crimes at the international level. Since then, the ILC has played a seminal role in the development of modern international criminal law. In 2017, the ILC adopted on first reading a draft convention aimed at the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity which it transmitted to States for comments. The draft treaty will help fill the present gap in the law of international crimes since States criminalized genocide in 1948 and war crimes in 1949, but missed the opportunity to do so for crimes against humanity. This Article examines the first reading text using the lens of the ILC’s two-pronged mandate. Part II explains how the ILC can take up new topics and the main reasons why it decided to propose a new crimes against humanity convention. Part III discusses positive features of the draft convention, highlighting key aspects of each of the Draft Articles. Part IV critiques the ILC draft treaty focusing on inconsistencies in the use of the ICC definition of the crime, immunities, amnesties, and the lack of a proposal on a treaty monitoring mechanism. The final part draws tentative conclusions. The author argues that, notwithstanding the formal distinction drawn by the ILC Statute between progressive development, on the one hand, and codification, on the other hand, the ILC’s approach to the crimes against humanity topic follows a well settled methodology of proposing draft treaties that are judged likely to be effective and broadly acceptable to States rather than focusing on which provisions reflect codification and which constitute progressive development of the law. It is submitted that, if the General Assembly takes forward the ILC’s draft text to conclude a new crimes against humanity treaty after the second reading, this will make a significant contribution to the development of modern international criminal law.


Charles C. Jalloh B.A. LL.B Ph.D
Professor of Law, Florida International University and Member, International Law Commission.
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