n Acta Juridica - Defining the crime of aggression : an important agenda item for the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court : international criminal law

Volume 2003, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



On 1 July 2002 the International Criminal Court came into existence, sixty days after the Rome Statute establishing it was ratified by at least 60 states. This was approximately four years after a Conference of Plenipotentiaries that met at Rome in 1998 adopted the Statute. The court has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of international concern: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. While the Statute defines genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes it does not define aggression. Indeed, aggression would have been omitted from the list altogether, were it not for the insistence of delegations from the non-aligned movement as well as a few European states, notably Germany. Given the highly political nature of the crime, the pressure for time and the tense atmosphere that prevailed at the Rome Conference it was well nigh impossible for the Conference to arrive at a satisfactory consensus on this controversial matter. The solution was for the Conference to assign the task of defining the crime to the Assembly of States Parties.

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