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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

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

Relating to ‘The Other’

The ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity and the Mutual Legal Assistance Initiative

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords International Law Commission (ILC), Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity, Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) initiative, crimes against humanity, international criminal law
Authors Larissa van den Herik
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity and the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Initiative have largely run in tandem throughout their development. Both projects are motivated by similar gap-filling desires and both projects aim to expand the international criminal justice toolkit; however, these similarities have led to questions if both projects are necessary. This article addresses that question, looking at how different actors have answered this question during the respective processes of maturation of both projects and where both projects stand today. It argues that, while there is significant overlap between the projects, both instruments have merits which the other is lacking, and the optimal solution would be to bring both projects to fruition.


Larissa van den Herik
Prof. Dr. L.J. van den Herik is professor of public international law at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University.
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

Interstate Cooperation and Why a Horizontal Treaty Would Make a Difference for ICC Investigations

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords cooperation framework, Draft Articles, international criminal law, International Criminal Court, interstate cooperation
Authors George William Mugwanya
AbstractAuthor's information

    The International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity contain an obligation to implement an interstate cooperation regime. This article argues that although this regime is ‘horizontal’, it also has the potential to enhance the efficacy of investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It provides a brief overview of the regime as set out in the Draft Articles, and the ICC’s cooperation regime, before exploring how the Draft Articles can fill some gaps in the ICC system. It also makes suggestions to improve the Draft Articles and strengthen the cooperation regime.


George William Mugwanya
Advocate, High Court of Uganda; Prosecution Appeals Counsel, International Criminal Court (ICC). Formerly Senior Appeals Counsel, UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Senior Lecturer, Makerere University Faculty of Law, he holds a JSD (summa cum laude), (Notre Dame Law School); LLM (Birmingham); LLM (with distinction) (Pretoria); LLB (Hons) (Makerere) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice (Law Development Centre).
Article

ILC Report on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity and Enforced Disappearance

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords enforced disappearance, without prejudice clause, Draft Articles, crimes against humanity, commentaries
Authors Claudio Grossman
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article values as an important milestone the Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity. They greatly contribute to the development of international law, inter alia, seeking to prevent impunity and to establish the duty to prosecute or extradite those who have allegedly committed crimes against humanity. They are a solid basis for a possible diplomatic conference designed to adopt a convention that will establish binding obligations for all ratifying States. The Draft Articles took as a point of departure the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to list and define crimes against humanity, and, considering current developments in international law, departed from the Rome Statute so far in two matters: the definition of gender and the treatment of persecution. This article argues why it is essential to follow a similar approach and adopt the definition of enforced disappearance currently used in international conventions that deal with such a horrendous crime. The article also shows why the ‘without prejudice’ clause currently proposed by the Draft Articles is unsatisfactory, depriving States that do not follow the restrictive definition incorporated more than two decades ago in the Rome Statute from the benefits of the proposed convention.


Claudio Grossman
Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus, R. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law; Member, United Nations International Law Commission; and President, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.
Article

Access_open Introduction to the Symposium on a Way Forward

Academic and Practitioner Perspectives on the ILC Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity as adopted on Second Reading

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 2 2020
Authors Charles C. Jalloh and Leila N. Sadat
Author's information

Charles C. Jalloh
Charles C. Jalloh is Professor of Law, Florida International University and Member and Chair of the Drafting Committee (seventieth session) and Rapporteur (seventy-first session), International Law Commission. Email: jallohc@gmail.com.

Leila N. Sadat
Leila N. Sadat is James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law and Director, Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, Washington University School of Law.
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.
Article

Access_open African Union and the Politics of Selective Prosecutions at the International Criminal Court

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1 2020
Keywords African Union (AU), United Nations Security Council (UNSC), International Criminal Court (ICC), immunity, impunity
Authors Fabrice Tambe Endoh
AbstractAuthor's information

    The African Union (AU) claims that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is selective against African leaders. The issue therefore arises concerning the validity of the allegations of selectivity. Partly because of such concerns, African Heads of States adopted the Malabo Protocol during their annual summit held in June 2014. Article 46A bis of the Protocol provides immunity for sitting Heads of States. This provision contradicts Article 27 of the Rome Statute and, consequently, arguably reverses the progress made so far in international criminal law by giving priority to immunity in the face of impunity. This article considers the validity of some of the allegations of selective application of criminal sanctions by the ICC and the likely consequence of the Malabo Protocol for regional and international criminal justice. The article argues that the Malabo Protocol should not be ratified by African states until the shield of immunity granted to sitting Heads of States is lifted to better advance the interests of justice for the victims of international crimes in Africa. In addition, the complementarity clause stated in the Malabo Protocol should have a nexus with the ICC such that the Court would be allowed to prosecute the perpetrators of international crimes in circumstances where the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) prove reluctant to do so.


Fabrice Tambe Endoh
Dr. Fabrice Tambe Endoh holds a PhD in International Criminal Law from the North-West University, South-Africa.

    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 International Criminal Court and Africa

Contextualizing the Anti-ICC Narrative

Journal African Journal of International Criminal Justice, Issue 1-2 2016
Keywords International Criminal Court (ICC), security, African Union (AU), war crimes, international law
Authors Brendon J. Cannon, Dominic R. Pkalya and Bosire Maragia
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article critiques attempts by some in Africa to brand the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a neocolonial institution and stooge of the West. These arguments accuse the ICC of playing a double standard, being overly focused on trying African defendants, and warn that the Court risks exacerbating factionalism and ethnic divisions thereby threatening peace and reconciliation efforts. Although we neither defend nor champion the ICC’s mandate, we deem such criticisms as hyperbole. At best, they attempt to whitewash the instrumental role played by African states in the birth of the Court and ignore the fact that many of the ICC cases were referred there by African governments. Furthermore, the current African narrative understates the ICC’s potential to midwife local judiciaries and contribute positively towards conflict resolution in Africa through the promotion of at least a measure of accountability and offers of justice, thereby taming elite immunity and impunity in states where justice regimes are either weak or non-existent. Until African states strengthen their judiciaries to ensure such references to the ICC are indeed a last resort, the Court will continue to remain the only credible forum for states emerging from conflict and seeking justice and reconciliation.


Brendon J. Cannon
Brendon J. Cannon is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Khalifa University’s Institute of International and Civil Security (IICS) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Dominic R. Pkalya
Dominic R. Pkalya is a post-graduate student at Kisii University, Faculty of Social Sciences in Nairobi, Kenya.

Bosire Maragia
Bosire Maragia is an Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science (African Politics) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA and works for the United States Federal Government. The views expressed herein are his and do not reflect or constitute official US government policy.

    Over the last decade, Nigeria has witnessed several high-intensity conflicts. It became a country under preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) following allegations of serious crimes. In 2013, the boko haram insurgency was classified as a “non-international armed conflict.” Commentators appear divided over the capacity and willingness of domestic institutions to manage crimes arising from or connected with conflicts in Nigeria. Those who argue for unwillingness often point to the struggle to domesticate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) as one of the clearest indication that there is not sufficient interest. This article interrogates the question of seeming impunity for serious crimes in Nigeria and makes a case for domesticating the Rome Statute through an amendment to the Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes, Genocide and Related Offences Bill, 2012 pending before the National Assembly.


Stanley Ibe
LL.B. (Lagos State University, Nigeria); LL.M. (Maastricht University, The Netherlands); Postgraduate Diploma in International Protection of Human Rights (Abo Akademi, Finland). Ibe is an associate legal officer for Africa at the Open Society Justice Initiative. He writes in a private capacity.
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