Crimes Against Humanity

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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 this forum offers the first opportunity for us to contribute to a substantive discussion focusing primarily on the implications of our report for the broader international legal discourse. The contributions over the past week drew attention to several key themes, which we address here.  We look forward to a robust exchange on these and other issues in the days and months to come, including: (1) the conventional and customary definitions of the crime against humanity of apartheid, including the definition of ‘racial group’; and the influence of international human rights law, especially the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), on such definitions; (2) the distinction between…

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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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The Proposed Definition of the Crime of Ecocide: An Important Step Forward, but Can Our Planet Wait?

Last week, an independent expert panel (“IEP”) published a proposed definition of ecocide as a potential fifth international crime to be added to the Rome Statute. The introduction of such a definition in the Rome Statute and placing crimes against the environment at the same level with “the most serious…

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Gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity: A milestone for LGBTI rights before the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace

On 14 April 2021 the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP) broke new ground: It accredited five LGBTI persons as victims of the Colombian armed conflict and resolved that their gender-based persecution might have amounted to a crime against humanity. The decision is pioneering for two reasons: First, the JEP declared its…

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