The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) celebrates Wednesday, July 17, 2019 as the annual Day of International Criminal Justice. This year’s observance marks the 21st anniversary of the international community’s adoption of the Rome Statute, which entered into force in July of 2002. The Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a permanent body. Located in The Hague in The Netherlands, the ICC is dedicated to ending impunity in grave criminal matters and holds a mandate to investigate and try individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
On this date in 2018, ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression was activated, adding it to the institution’s purview alongside the four traditional crimes that fall under the umbrella term “mass atrocity.” The crime of aggression is defined as “the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” More information on can be found here on the website of the International Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
At the moment, the ICC is undertaking several dozen concurrent processes. It is currently operating 11 preliminary investigations and has 11 situations officially under investigation, in addition to 4 cases currently at trial, 1 under appeal, 3 at the reparations phase, and 6 listed as “closed” due to a dismissal of charges, successfully appealed conviction, or similar.
122 states – one fewer than on this day in 2018 – from across the globe are currently party to the Rome Statute, with Malaysia joining most recently on March 4, 2019. Each state that accedes to the Rome Statute joins the Assembly of States Parties, which represents the ICC’s primary legislative and oversight body.
On the 2019 Day of International Criminal Justice, the Auschwitz Institute reaffirms its support for International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice, and other bodies working at the international level to combat impunity and create accountability. AIPR recognizes the valuable contributions of these bodies to the global fight against mass atrocities through the prosecution of those directly responsible for these crimes. Furthermore, the Auschwitz Institute welcomes the introduction of the crime of aggression to the ICC’s jurisdiction as an important addition to the toolkit available for preventing genocide and other mass atrocities at the international level.