JUNE 12, 2010: ICC Reaches Partial Agreement On Crime of Aggression

ICC Reaches Partial Agreement On Crime of Aggression
SOURCE: Radio France Internationale (Paris)
By Patricia Okoed Bukumunhe
A two-week review conference for the International Criminal Court has ended with delegates failing to agree fully on what was considered the most crucial objective of the meeting.

The 4,000 delegates in the Ugandan capital Kampala came up with a definition for the crime of aggression but failed to give the international court jurisdiction over the crime.

Instead the delegates came up with an amendment stating that the UN Security Council will hold primary responsibility for determining whether an act of aggression has occurred.

The meeting ended with the 111 signatory states resolving to re-examine the issue at the next review conference in seven years.

The delegates had sat until early on Saturday morning. But while they did resolve to amend the Rome Statute so as to include a definition of aggression, they fell short of giving the international court jurisdiction over the crime.

The Conference based the definition of the crime of aggression on an earlier definition drafted by the UN General assembly in 1974. That stated that aggression was a crime committed by a political or military leader which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation.

But having failed to agree on the court's jurisdiction over the crime, all alleged acts of aggression will be referred to the UN Security Council until the next review conference in January 2017.

Several countries - including France and observers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Russia - say the power to handle cases of aggression should remain with the UN Security Council. They believe that having the ICC take total control over the crime could politicise the court and compromise its effectiveness.

Chris Whomersley, the head of the observer team from the UK, said the time between now and the next review conference should be used to take stock and fine tune attempts for the court to fully handle the crime of aggression.

The head of the US delegation William Lietzau similarly voiced American support for the UN Security Council to handle aggression.

The conference also expanded the court's authority over war crimes to incorporate crimes committed with the use of poisonous or nuclear chemicals.