Day of International Criminal Justice

The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) celebrates July 17, 2020 as the annual Day of International Criminal Justice. This year’s observance marks the 22nd anniversary of the international community’s adoption of the Rome Statute, which later entered into force in July of 2002. The Rome Statute codified the four grave crimes that are popularly referred to as “mass atrocities”: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing and established the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a permanent judicial 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.

The Assembly of States Parties — made up of countries that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute — has increased by 1 from this date in 2019. The Assembly represents the ICC’s represents the ICC’s primary legislative and oversight body. Following the withdrawal of the Philippines in March of 2019, which brought the total number of States Parties down to 122, Kiribati joined the Assembly in late November of last year.

On the 2020 Day of International Criminal Justice, the Auschwitz Institute emphasizes the enduring need for robust criminal justice mechanisms at the global level. Whether through the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and/or other bodies working to combat impunity and realize justice for victims, AIPG recognizes the valuable contributions of the individuals and institutions engaged in the fight against mass atrocities by holding those responsible for humankind’s most serious crimes to account.