Overview by Jill Baehring, Research Associate PILPG-NL
Sean Murphy, Moderator, Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity, International Law Commission
Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Former Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Judge O-Gon Kwon, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Advisor, Amnesty International
Leila Nadya Sadat, Director, Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and Chair of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, Washington University School of Law
Judge Christine van den Wyngaert, International Criminal Court
Sean Murphy, UN Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity, said that hopes to submit a final version of the Draft Resolution to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 or 2020.
Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Advisor to Amnesty International challenged the notion that the Rome Statute provides the best definition of Crimes Against Humanity, and that the Statute does not necessarily reflect the progress that has been made in the last 15 years.
The side event was opened by Sean Murphy, UN Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity. He outlined the development and progress of the Draft Convention, which was commenced as a project in 2014. He pointed out that about one half of the world’s States has no national law on Crimes Against Humanity, including the U.S. Even those who do, do not necessarily mirror the Rome Statute’s provisions. For instance, in most cases States do not exercise universal jurisdiction, and many national laws do not allow jurisdiction over an individual if the case does not have any connection to the respective country. He concluded that the Draft Resolution will be able to create greater accountability in this regard. He hopes to submit a final version of the Draft Resolution to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 or 2020.
Sean Murphy outlined the 10 prospective articles as following:
1) Statement of Purpose of the Convention
2) General obligation of States to prevent and punish Crimes Against Humanity
3) Definition of the Crime, which has been taken from Art. 7 of the Rome Statute
4) The Obligation of States to prevent Crimes Against Humanity and to adopt judicial and other preventive measures.
5) Criminalization at national level, military and civilian command responsibility
6) Establishment of national jurisdiction
7) The duty of States to conduct an prompt and impartial investigation
8) The duty to take an offender into custody as well as cooperation with other States
9) The duty to conduct an investigation as soon as an offender is present in the State’s territory, transfer to other jurisdictions
10) Fair treatment of the offender
Judge Richard Goldstone, Former Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY and ICTR, added that Crimes Against Humanity are the only important war crime without convention. Judge O-Gon Kwon, Former Judge at the ICTY, emphasized that the Draft Convention will not undermine the universality of the Rome Statute. Moreover, it will complement the primary mission of the ICC. He called the Draft Convention an important step in the fight for universality and against impunity.
Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Advisor to Amnesty International, said that Amnesty International welcomes the initiative and that the Draft Convention will consolidate State’s obligations to investigate Crimes Against Humanity at a national level, which has the potential to act as important trigger to fight against impunity. He encouraged NGOs and civil society to engage with the further process. He pointed out that the Statute of Limitations as set out in the Draft Convention opens the possibility to enable more accountability. Regarding the statement of rights of an offender, he emphasized that a system of international justice is not credible if it lacks the fair treatment of offenders. He also noted that Amnesty International would have preferred a more progressive approach regarding universal jurisdiction. He challenged the notion that the Rome Statute provides the best definition of Crimes Against Humanity, and that the Statute does not necessarily reflect the progress that has been made in the last 15 years.
ICC Judge Christine van den Wyngaert said that the Draft Convention goes well beyond the Rome Statute, especially when it comes to the responsibility to cooperate. This might have a big impact on the fight against impunity. She pointed out that the development of international law was a slow process, but that there has been a rapid development since the end of the Second World War. While the law now knows clear definitions of War Crimes and Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity had not been domesticated by States in the same way, which is why the Draft Convention will be a big step forward.
Leila Nadya Sadat, Director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and Chair of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative of the Washington School of Law, agreed that there was a huge development in international law. She pointed out that the development of the Draft Convention would not have been possible without the Rome Statute. She congratulated Sean Murphy on his extraordinary work and highlighted that the obligation to prevent Crimes Against Humanity were a big innovation. Responding to Solomon Sacco, she said that there was a push and pull between international law’s progressive development and codification.
In the questions, it was highlighted once again that even among the States Parties to the Rome Statute, less than half had adapted their domestic law. It was expressed that the Draft Convention will help to contribute to universality and complementarity.