Crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and the crime of aggression summary

 

The Rome Statute is a treaty in 2003 that established the International Criminal Court. It gives jurisdiction to the Court to prosecute on crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and the crime of aggression.

 

What are crimes against humanity?

Crimes against humanity means the act committed when directed against a civilian population during a widespread and systematic attack, with knowledge of the attack. Acts are: murder, torture, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or severe deprivation of physical liberty, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance of persons, apartheid, and other humane acts that cause great suffering or serious mental or physical harm.

What are war crimes?

War crimes mean acts committed that took place in the context of and associated with international armed conflict. These include breaches of the Geneva Conventions, serious violations of law and customs in international armed conflict within international law, and serious violations of armed conflict not of an international character common to the Geneva Conventions against persons who are non-combatants.

According to the Elements of Crimes of the Rome Statute, war crimes are split up into four sections:

 (a) Wilful killing, torture, inhumane treatment, subjecting one or more persons to biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering, destruction of property, compelling service in hostile forces, denying a fair trial, unlawful deportation and transfer, unlawful confinement, taking hostages.

(b) Attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, attacking personnel or objects involved in humanitarian missions, excessive incidental death or damage, attacking undefended places, killing or wounding a person who is out of combat, improper use of a flag of truce, improper use of a flag, insignia or uniform, improper use of emblems of the Geneva Conventions, the transfer of civilians from the occupying power to the territory it occupies or the transfer of the population of the occupied territory outside this territory, attacking protected objects, mutilation, medical or scientific experiments, treacherously killing or wounding, denying quarter, destroying or seizing enemy’s property, depriving nationals of rights or actions, compelling participation in military operations, pillaging, employing poison or poisoned weapons, employing prohibited gases, materials, devices or bullets, outrages upon personal dignity, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, sexual violence, using protected persons as shields, attacking objects or persons using emblems of the Geneva Conventions, starvation as a method of warfare, using or conscripting children,

(c) Murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture, outrages upon personal dignity, taking hostages, sentencing or execution without due process.

(e*) Attacking civilians, attacking objects or persons using the emblems of the Geneva Conventions, attacking personnel or objects involved in humanitarian missions, attacking protected objects, pillaging, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, sexual violence, using or conscripting children, displacing civilians, treacherously killing or wounding, denying quarter, mutilation, medical or scientific experiments, destroying or seizing enemy’s property, employing poison or poisoned weapons, employing prohibited gases, materials, devices or bullets.

Why split up war crimes into four sections?

The content of war crimes (a) is already covered by the Geneva Conventions, but is specified in the Rome Statute. (b) relates to war crimes covered in the laws and customs of international law. (c) refers to war crimes of acts committed in armed conflict not of an international character, which are violations of Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including against those who are civilians or out of combat. (e) refers to other war crimes committed in armed conflict not of an international character within the laws and customs of international law.

*(e) Why is there no (d) but goes to (e)? This is to keep in parallel with the Rome Statute, making my reader in a better position to look up the location of what I write on the treaty itself. In the Rome Statute, (d) refers to (c) being war crimes only in the context of armed conflict not of an international character, but does not apply to internal disturbances (such as riots and isolated acts of violence).

What is genocide?

Genocide is the act committed with intent to destroy a group based on national, ethnic, religious or racial orientation. These acts are killing members of a group, causing serious physical/mental harm to members of a group, deliberately inflicting harm on the conditions of life to members of a group to bring about its destruction, imposing measures to prevent births on members of the group, and forcibly transferring children from members of the group to another group.

What is the crime of aggression?

The most recent discussion on the crime of aggression was at a conference in Kampala in 2010. The outcome of this conference helped clarify in more detail what constitutes a crime of aggression. Prior to this conference, the crime of aggression was subject to a provision being made and adopted by states party to the Rome Statute (agreed by a two-thirds majority).

According to the Rome Statute a crime of aggression means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution of an act of aggression. The act of aggression means the use of armed force by one state against another state. The act of aggression which by its character, gravity and scale constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations. The person committing the crime of aggression would be in a position to exercise control over political or military action over a state.

References:

Rome Statute

Elements of Crimes of the Rome Statute