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ICC review conference, important peace tool

June 15, 2010

The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal that tries individuals, not countries, for crimes of against humanity, crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. It became into being in 2002, and since then has taken on 5 major cases in: Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, and Sudan. The Kampala Review Conference was held May 31- June 11 in Kampala, Uganda to review the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

The United States was a key member in drafting the Rome Statute which is why the United States had a voice at the Kampala conference. However the United States has not ratified the document. In fact during President Bush’s presidency he had the document unsigned. In the lead up to the conference there was a lot of talk about how the Obama administration should act towards the ICC and Kampala. There were many meetings and retreats within the US that concentrated on that question including the 2010 Chicago ICC retreat: http://www.alma.edu/academics/departments/social_sciences/public_affairs/icc) .

The International Criminal Court is an important tool for creating a more peaceful world and it is important that we, as global citizens, support this young court as it develops. So here are some brief highlights of the Kampala Review Conference:

The crime of aggression was defined and set to come into affect in 2017. The crime of aggression already exists under article 5 of the Rome Statute along with the crime of genocide, Crimes against humanity and War crimes. However, the Rome Statute states that the Court will only exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression when provisions are adopted to define the crime and to set out the conditions under which the Court would exercise its jurisdiction over the crime.
o For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
o Here is the actual resolution that the countries present agreed to: http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/Resolutions/RC-Res.4-ENG.pdf

They also discussed 2 other resolutions.
1.  The Conference adopted a resolution by which it amended article 8 of the Rome Statute to expand certain war crimes that are currently only applicable to international armed conflicts, to apply to non-international armed conflicts. These crimes include using certain poisonous weapons, expanding bullets, and poisonous gases.

2. The Conference also decided not to amend article 124 of the Rome Statute, which allows new States Parties to opt for excluding from the Court’s jurisdiction war crimes allegedly committed by its nationals or on its territory for a period of seven years.

Of special interest was the call for cooperation in enforcing the arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and Sudan’s non-cooperation in handing over two suspects in the Darfur case. African states and the African Union, came under the spotlight for failing to cooperate with the ICC over the Bashir case and denying the Court the opportunity to open up a liaison office in Addis Ababa. Interestingly, the African working group could not reach any agreement on the Bashir case, but were unanimous on forging more ties with the ICC. Africa constitutes the biggest ICC bloc with 30 countries having ratified the Rome Statute and all of the current ICC cases are based in African countries.
• The host president Yoweri Museveni also found himself in an awkward position as there were increasing calls for the ICC to investigate and prosecute him.
The US and Kampala
• The highest priority on the American agenda was to defeat an amendment that would grant the ICC jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.
• At the very least, the U.S. wanted to convince the delegates (America has withdrawn its signature from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, and thus sent observers rather than delegates) to grant the court jurisdiction over aggression only in cases where the U.N. Security Council has determined that an act of aggression has been committed.
o Neither of these objectives were achieved
o Here is an interesting article about the US and Kampala:
 http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NWZhZmRmNzVjNzViODNhZjlkOWI0OWIzN2MwNDA4ODY=

and  http://www.kampala.icc-cpi.info/

Chelsea Clark, MPT Intern

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