The International Criminal Court and the Crime of Aggression
• The Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School
• University of Cologne
The impending activation of the Kampala amendments to the Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of aggression was the subject of a session for a group of three dozen guests, including a high number of legal advisers to States, held at the German House near the UN on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The venue in Midtown East in New York's borough of Manhattan houses the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN and the German Consulate General of New York. The meeting was organized by the Institute for International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne together with Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute.
Chaired by Professor Sarah H. Cleveland, who is the Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, and the US Member of the UN Human Rights Committee, the panel featured presentations by Professor Harold Hongju Koh, who is the Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and the former legal adviser of the U.S. Department of State in the Obama Administration from 2009-2013, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the Clinton Administration; and Professor Claus Kreß, who is the Chair for German and International Criminal Law at the University of Cologne, the Director of the Cologne Institute for International Peace and Security Law, and who has been a member of Germany's delegations in the negotiations on the International Criminal Court since 1998.
What ensued was what panel Chair Professor Sarah Cleveland called "very fine discourse." Legal advisers to the Permanent Missions of numerous UN Member States (e.g., Australia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay), representatives of the community of nongovernmental organizations and the media as well as a group of Professor Cleveland's students, candidates for the JD degree at Columbia Law School, were in attendance. At the moment, 26 states have ratified the amendments, as Stefan Barriga, the Legal Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN, reported. Stefan Barriga, together with Claus Kreß, is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press Library of the Crime of Aggression which comprises the Travaux Préperatoires of the Crime of Aggression (2012) and the 'Crime of Aggression: A Commentary' (due for October 2016).
The animated discussion, in which a good part of the audience engaged, covered issues, such as the scope of the substantive definition (Koh and Kreß agreed that participation in a genuine unilateral humanitarian intervention should not be criminalized), about certain questions regarding the jurisdictional regime (single ratification requirement with opt out-option vs. double ratification scheme), about policy avenues available to States in order to achieve (even) greater legal certainty (the question of 'partial opt outs'), as well about the proper format for activating the Kampala compromise (Assembly of States or Review Conference).
By Stefanie Grupp-Clasby
Stefanie Grupp-Clasby is the Executive Director of the University of Cologne New York Office Corporation, the friends-of US office of the University of Cologne. The University of Cologne is one of Germany's leading research universities and has been welcoming students and researchers from around the world at all levels of their academic career since it was founded in 1388 in the City of Cologne, Germany. The New York Office was established to maintain close ties with US and Canadian research institutions, alumni, and business and the media.
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