n Acta Juridica - Hague law comes home : prosecuting weapons offences at the International Criminal Court : international criminal law

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



The coming into being of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been the cause of considerable celebration around the proverbial 'invisible college' of international lawyers. And rightly so. Lord Justice Sedley of the English Court of Appeal has more than a little justification for his view that the ICC represents 'the greatest single advance ever made in international humanitarian law enforcement'. Nonetheless, judgement on the humanitarian law aspects of the Rome Statute must be deferred at least until the relevant provisions have been subjected to a thorough examination. It is the purpose of this chapter to evaluate some of those provisions, namely those relating to the use of prohibited weapons from the perspective of both international law and criminal law.

International humanitarian law has traditionally been split into two sub-categories, 'Hague' law and 'Geneva' law, so named after the places where the primary treaties relating to each were drafted. In short, Geneva law is concerned with the protection of those persons not involved in hostilities, while Hague law deals with the conduct of hostilities in relation to legitimate targets. These classifications were never entirely satisfactory; for example, attacks on legitimate targets (Hague law) may have effects on those not taking part in hostilities (which might more naturally fall under Geneva law). In addition, the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions dealt with matters traditionally considered to be within the ambit of both Geneva and Hague law.

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