Ratification of the Amendments on the Crime of Aggression to the Rome Statute

As of June 4, 2013, there are 7 States that have ratified the amendments on the crime of aggression as adopted on June 11, 2010 by Resolution RC/Res. 6 during a Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala, Uganda. Click here to view the status of the ratification of the amendments.

The first State to ratify the amendments was Lichtenstein, followed by Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago, all in 2012. In 2013, Luxembourg, followed by Estonia, and most recently Germany and Botswana ratified the amendments.

Germany’s June 3rd, 2013 ratification is of a particular significance because it was during Nuremberg and Tokyo trials that those most responsible for “crimes against peace” were prosecuted. UN Charter art. 2(4) prohibits the

threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.

Relying on this language defendants were prosecuted for committing “crimes against peace” and aggression was an example of such. Since then the definition of aggression has gone through international negotiations and number of modifications. In 1974, the General Assembly adopted resolution (UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX)) in which it defined aggression and its purpose and included guidance to the Security Council in its determination of the existence of an act of aggression.

In 1998, during the Rome Conference for the adoption of the Rome Statute, delegates of States could not agree on a clear definition of the crime of aggression. Thus, the crime of aggression was included in Art. 5 of the Statute but its definition and the process of determining the Court’s jurisdiction over it were deferred to first Review Conference.

Article 5 of the Rome Statute lists the four crimes over which the International Criminal Court can exercise its jurisdiction:

  • The crime of genocide;
  • Crimes against humanity;
  • War crimes;
  • The crime of aggression.

In 2010, members of the Review Conference met and agreed on amendments defining the crime of aggression. In order for these amendments to go in effect, 30 States must ratify it in addition to one-time activation decision by States Parties. The earliest time these amendments can be activated is after January 1, 2017 when States Parties will take their one-time activation vote to allow the Court exercise jurisdiction of the crime of aggression. Such decision however can be made only after the amendments have entered into force for at least 30 States and the amendments will enter into force for any State one year after that State has deposited the instrument of ratification.

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