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Article

Time to Deliver

Defining a Process Towards the Negotiation of a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Sixth Committee, International Law Commission, intergovernmental negotiations, multilateral treaties, treaty-making process
Authors Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2019, the International Law Commission (ILC) adopted its articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity and referred them to the UN General Assembly with the recommendation of adopting a multilateral treaty based on them. The General Assembly’s Sixth Committee was unable to take a decision on this matter and deferred its consideration to 2020. This article focuses on how, in resuming its discussion, the Sixth Committee will have a unique opportunity to define the process towards intergovernmental negotiations. This will close a gap in international criminal law, while generating a new dynamic in its relationship with the ILC on codification, breaking its current cyclical inertia of inaction.


Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga
Vice-president of the Seventy-fourth Session of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Legal Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations and personal assistant to the ILC’s Special Rapporteur for the topic ‘provisional application of treaties’, Mr. Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo.
Article

Unlocking the Sixth Committee’s Potential to Act for Crimes Against Humanity as It Did for Genocide

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords crimes against humanity, General Assembly, International Law Commission, Sixth Committee, United Nations
Authors Michael Imran Kanu
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Law Commission, on completion of its work on the draft articles on prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, recommended to the General Assembly the elaboration of a convention by the said Assembly or by an international conference of plenipotentiaries based on the said draft articles. The Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly at the first opportunity only took note of the draft articles and postponed consideration of the recommendation to its next session. The resolution of the General Assembly, as recommended by the Sixth Committee, does not readily disclose the full extent of the debate, proposals and concerns expressed in the Sixth Committee that prevented the General Assembly from acting on the Commission’s recommendation. This article, in considering the cornucopia of views expressed by States, outlines a path to unlock the Sixth Committee’s potential to act, by proposing a separation of the organizational and substantive matters and future-proofing the further consideration of elaborating a convention through the adoption of a structured approach.


Michael Imran Kanu
Michael Imran Kanu is a Doctor of Juridical Science (CEU, Budapest and Vienna), and currently Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations. michaelimrankanu@gmail.com.
Article

An Analysis of State Reactions to the ILC’s Work on Crimes Against Humanity

A Pattern of Growing Support

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords crimes against humanity, Sixth Committee, International Law Commission, Draft Articles, International Criminal Court
Authors Leila N. Sadat and Madaline George
AbstractAuthor's information

    The international community has been engaged with the topic of crimes against humanity since the International Law Commission (ILC) began work on it in 2013, with a view to draft articles for a future convention. Between 2013 and 2019, 86 States as well as several entities and subregional groups made comments on the ILC’s work at the United Nations Sixth Committee or through written comments to the ILC. This article is the culmination of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute’s work cataloguing and analysing States’ comments by assigning each statement to one of five categories – strong positive, positive, neutral, negative, and strong negative – examining both specific words and the general tenor of the comments. This article analyses the development of States’ reactions to the ILC’s work over time, as well as specific issues that frequently arose, observing that there is a pattern of growing support from States to use the ILC’s Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity as the basis for a new convention.


Leila N. Sadat
Leila Nadya Sadat is the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, and Director, Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, Washington University School of Law. This work could not have been accomplished without the extraordinary efforts of several Harris Institute Fellows, including Fizza Batool, Evelyn Chuang, Tamara Slater, and Kristin Smith and Research Fellows Kate Falconer, Sam Rouse, and Ke (Coco) Xu.

Madaline George
Madaline George, JD, is the Senior Fellow at the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law.

    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.
Article

Delimiting Deportation, Unlawful Transfer, Forcible Transfer and Forcible Displacement in International Criminal Law

A Jurisprudential History

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1 2019
Keywords International criminal law, theory of international law, crimes against humanity, deportation, unlawful or forcible transfer
Authors Ken Roberts and James G. Stewart
AbstractAuthor's information

    The forced displacement of civilian populations is an issue of significant global concern and a subject of extensive legal debate. In international criminal law, forced displacement is criminalized by a complex network of distinct but overlapping offences. These include the Crimes Against Humanity of deportation, forcible transfer, persecution and other inhumane acts, and the grave breach of the Geneva Conventions of ‘unlawful deportation or transfer’. International courts and tribunals have been inconsistent in the adoption of these crimes in their statues and in their subsequent interpretation, making it all the more difficult to distinguish between them. The jurisprudential history of these crimes is lengthy and not without controversy, highlighted by inconsistent judicial approaches. In this article, we offer a critical jurisprudential history of these displacement crimes in international criminal law.
    In particular, we focus on the case law emanating from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a court that comprehensively addressed crimes associated with ethnic cleansing, a characteristic feature of that conflict, with the result that displacement was a central focus of that court. We set out our jurisprudential history in chronological order, beginning with the earliest inceptions of displacement crimes at the ICTY and then tracing their development toward the establishment of a consensus. Our hope is that the article sheds light on the development of these offences, informs future debate, and acts as a useful template for those seeking to understand how these crimes may have a role to play in future international jurisprudence.


Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts is Senior Legal Officer, International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (Syria).

James G. Stewart
James G. Stewart is Associate Professor, Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia.
Article

Civil Society Perspectives on the Criminal Chamber of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1-2 2018
Keywords Malabo Protocol, African Court, Criminal Chamber, International and Transnational Crimes, African Union
Authors Benson Chinedu Olugbuo LLB BL LLM Ph.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2014, African Heads of States and Governments adopted the Protocol on the Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The Malabo Protocol seeks to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court to international and transnational crimes. This development raises fundamental issues of jurisdiction, capacity, political will and regional complementarity in the fight against impunity in the African continent. The paper interrogates the role of Civil Society Organisations in the adoption and possible operationalisation of the Court in support of the efforts of the African Union to end human rights abuses and commission of international and transnational crimes within the continent.


Benson Chinedu Olugbuo LLB BL LLM Ph.D.
LLB (Nigeria); BL (Abuja); LLM (Pretoria); Ph.D. (Cape Town); Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Abuja–Nigeria and Research Associate, Public Law Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

    Focus on whether a criminal chamber in a reformed African Court represents progress or retrogression relative to advances made in the Rome Statute shifts attention from the similar foundation of the two courts on an epochal bifurcation between the worst human rights abuses and quotidian wrongs. This bifurcation compromises our understanding of how abuses are related, what we should do about them and how we should go about studying them. It is at the core of aspects of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that have come under severe criticism. It also imperils the criminal chamber of the nascent African Court.


Ato Kwamena Onoma
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.
Article

The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in Advancing International Criminal Justice

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1 2015
Keywords Non-governmental organizations, NGOs and international criminal justice, civil society and human rights, non-state actors in international law
Authors Charles Chernor Jalloh
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in advancing international criminal justice. I argue that NGOs have had considerable impact by contributing, among other things, to the global struggle against impunity through advocacy for the creation of more robust institutional mechanisms to prosecute those who perpetrate such crimes. This ranges from supporting the processes that led to the creation of several ad hoc international tribunals for Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, all the way through to their support for the establishment of an independent permanent international penal court based in The Hague. The crux of my claim is that a historically sensitive approach to evaluating the role of NGOs in international governance shows that these entities are not only willing, but also capable of enhancing the protection of human rights and international criminal justice especially but not exclusively in less developed regions of the world.


Charles Chernor Jalloh
Associate Professor, Florida International University, College of Law, Miami, USA. Email: jallohc@gmail.com.
Article

Access_open International Criminal Court in the Trenches of Africa

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 0 2014
Keywords Africa and International Criminal Court, Amnesty and war crimes, International Criminal Court, International criminal justice, Peace agreements
Authors Lydia A. Nkansah
AbstractAuthor's information

    The pursuit of international criminal justice in Africa through the International Criminal Court (ICC) platform has not been without hitches. There is a rift between the African Union (AU), as a continental body, and the ICC owing to the AU’s perception that the ICC is pursuing selective justice and the AU’s misgivings about the ICC’s indictment /trial of some sitting heads of states in Africa. This article argues that the claim of selective justice cannot be dismissed because it undermines the regime of international criminal justice. The indictment/trial of serving heads of states also has serious constitutional and political implications for the countries involved, but this has been ignored in the literature. Further, the hitches arise both from the failure of the ICC to pay attention to the domestic contexts in order to harmonize its operations in the places of its interventions and from the inherent weakness of the ICC as a criminal justice system. The ICC, on its part, insists that any consideration given to the domestic contexts of its operations would undermine it. Yet the ICC’s interventions in Africa have had serious political, legal and social implications for the communities involved, jeopardizing the peaceful equilibrium in some cases. This should not be ignored. Using the law to stop and prevent international crimes in African societies would require a concerted effort by all concerned to harmonize the demand for justice with the imperatives on the ground.


Lydia A. Nkansah
LL.B, LL.M (Bendel State University), BL (Ghana & Nigeria), PhD (Walden University) is Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. The section of the article under the subheading “Putting the ICC in the Domestic Contexts of its Operation” is partly based on some ideas from the author’s PhD dissertation titled ‘Transitional Justice in Postconflict Contexts: The Case of Sierra Leone’s Dual Accountability Mechanisms’, submitted to Walden University, 2008.
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