Crimes Against Humanity

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UN Security Council Referrals to the ICC and the Principle of Legality

Introduction On 1 November 2021, the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rendered an interesting judgment relating to a jurisdictional challenge brought by the Defence in the case of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rhaman (“Ali Kushayb”). The challenge is noteworthy because it confronted the Court with novel issues of law relating to the basis and extent of its jurisdiction in cases of UN Security Council Referrals (as provided for in art 13(b) of the Rome Statute, RS). Even though it rejected all challenges, the AC did clarify important legal issues corrected some of the reasoning of the Pre-Trial Chamber II. In essence, this decision is about the application of the principle of legality or nullum crimen sine lege before the ICC in situations in a non-party state referred to it by the UN Security Council (UNSC). The reasoning provided for in the judgment clarifies several pertinent issues regarding the basis, scope and extent of its jurisdiction in these cases. The fact that Judge Ibáñez’s expressed a separate opinion for…

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The Weakest Link of the Troika? The Immunity of Heads of Government in Customary International Law

There have been a flurry of cases in the English courts concerning foreign leaders in recent months. Permission has been granted to serve the President of Mozambique in a case involving claims challenging state guarantees of the financing for projects in Mozambique. The Fifth President of Ukraine (2014-2019) Petro Poroshenko has been found to be immune…

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Human Rights Watch Responds: Reflections on Apartheid and Persecution in International Law

We appreciate the rich discussion triggered by this week’s EJIL Talk! symposium, which has addressed a number of legal issues arising from our report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” The report has received significant media attention and sparked many useful conversations since its release in late April. But…

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Symposium Introduction: Apartheid in Israel/Palestine?

This week the blog will be running a symposium provoked by a recent Human Rights Watch report arguing that Israel is responsible for committing the crime of apartheid within its boundaries and in the occupied Palestinian territories. This report is exemplary of an increasing trend amongst human rights activists and NGOs of labelling Israel’s policies…

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«Ecocide» as an international crime: Personal reflections on options and choices

On 22nd June 2021, the “Independent Expert Panel for the legal Definition of Ecocide” – on which I had the honour to serve – launched a proposal for a legal definition of “ecocide” for the purpose of amending the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the addition of a 5th international crime. In the following,…

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