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Existen cuatro crímenes execrables que conmocionan las conciencias de la mayoría de los seres humanos: genocidio, crímenes de guerra, depuración étnica y crímenes de lesa humanidad. Se han cometido desde el inicio de los tiempos. Tras la Primera Guerra Mundial hubo reacciones ante los horrores vividos. Vividos de nuevo durante la segunda, la Carta de Naciones Unidas recogió en 1945 estas preocupaciones. En los años ochenta y noventa del pasado siglo diversos gobiernos apoyaron el llamado derecho de injerencia (ascendido por algunos a deber) en los Estados que cometieran los crímenes en cuestión. No obstante, no fue hasta 2005, año en que la Asamblea General de la ONU convocó una cumbre sobre el tema, que todos los miembros de la Organización aprobaron por unanimidad la doctrina de la Responsabilidad de Proteger (RdP), diseñada para poner coto a los crímenes atroces.…  Seguir leyendo »

La fiscala Fatou Bensouda en 2018. Credit Peter Dejong/Pool vía Reuters

El informe presentado ante las Naciones Unidas por la Misión Internacional Independiente sobre Venezuela (FFM, por su sigla en inglés) le ha dado a la fiscala de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI), Fatou Bensouda, una oportunidad de oro para saldar su deuda con Venezuela y, al mismo tiempo, dejar un legado duradero.

El informe emitido recientemente por la FFM, creada por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, corrobora lo que organismos internacionales como la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) y la oficina de la alta comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos vienen advirtiendo, con un tono cada vez más perentorio, sobre los crímenes ocurridos en el país.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump declared a national emergency last Thursday — but it wasn’t about the covid-19 pandemic or police brutality or nationwide protests. Rather, the subject of the emergency declaration was the International Criminal Court, the body investigating the United States for suspected war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump announced that the ICC represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The executive order pushes back by authorizing economic and diplomatic sanctions on ICC personnel working on the Afghanistan probe and anyone who helps them.

The Trump administration has consistently and directly opposed the ICC, in contrast to the more passive opposition or even ad hoc support from previous administrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

A painting by the artist Banksy, in 2015 in Gaza. Divorce between Israel and the International Criminal Court was consumed in Rome in 1998, when Tel Aviv refused to sign and ratify the Statute, following its recognition of the transfer of the civilian population as a war crime. © Mohammed Abed / AFP

To me, the subject of Israel and Palestine, the relations between the two entities and their peoples, as well as the role of third actors (international or not), including the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been of concern for many years. The so-called Palestine Situation before the ICC seems to put into perspective the meetings and dialogues I had more than twenty years ago. Professionally, I have devoted my energy for the past fifteen years to international criminal justice, both in teaching and research and in practice, where I have been able to work alongside the Prosecutor General of Israel, the defence and more recently, in the representation of victims of international crimes.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this piece, the author points out "the interminable circularity of ‘debate’ around declaratory and constitutive theories of international law – which is to say the whether a state exists exclusively by having satisfied some set of criteria, or whether a state exists when other states recognise it as such". © Mohammed Abed / AFP

In December 2019 the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it had concluded its preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine, and was satisfied that it had competence to open a formal investigation. The announcement, however, came in the form of a Request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for confirmation that the OTP’s understanding of the scope of the Court’s jurisdiction over Palestine was correct.

Among the reasons the OTP gave for making the request was that “while the Prosecution wishes to obtain a ruling expeditiously, it would provide an opportunity for legal representatives of victims and the referring State to participate in the proceedings, if they wish.…  Seguir leyendo »

Existen cuatro crímenes execrables, repugnantes, que conmocionan las conciencias de la mayoría de los seres que habitan el planeta: el genocidio, los crímenes de guerra, la depuración étnica y los crímenes de lesa humanidad. Con esa u otras denominaciones se han cometido desde el inicio de los tiempos. Tras la Primera Guerra Mundial hubo reacciones ante los horrores vividos. Vividos nuevamente y aumentados tras la Segunda, la Carta de las Naciones Unidas incorporó en 1945 estas preocupaciones.

En 1998, impulsado por la ONU, nace el Tribunal Penal Internacional (TPI), hoy integrado por 124 Estados. Si bien algunos de los más poderosos (EE UU, Rusia, China) no forman parte de él (tampoco Israel) por temor a que algunos de sus nacionales puedan ser incriminados, es destacable que tantos Estados de culturas y acervos jurídicos dispares hayan concordado en un objetivo común.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya walk through a paddy field after crossing into Bangladesh in 2017. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a unanimous ruling that ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to protect its ethnic minority Rohingya population from genocide. The case — against which Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, argued unsuccessfully — ended up in front of the ICJ because of a tiny African country thousands of miles away. Here’s what you need to know about this story.

How the case got started

The case before the ICJ started a few weeks ago, when Gambia accused Myanmar of violating the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on Genocide. Suu Kyi flew to The Hague to defend her country, arguing that her government’s actions were legitimate counterinsurgency efforts against rebels in Rakhine state.…  Seguir leyendo »

On 15 January 2019, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé by a majority, stating that the prosecution had not provided evidence of all the required elements of the crimes against the accused. All eyes focused on Gbagbo because of his status as former president of Côte d'Ivoire. An immediate question was the consequences of this acquittal for his place on the Ivorian political scene.

This questioning cannot fail to recall a recent precedent in Kenya, where two major ICC defendants, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, found in the proceedings against them a motivation for their political union, and made it a powerful electoral argument.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 17 de julio de 1998 se aprobó en la Conferencia Internacional de Roma el estatuto que por primera en la historia creaba un Tribunal Penal con sede en La Haya cuyos rasgos esenciales son su carácter internacional, permanente, independiente y su vocación universal. Se cumple este año el XX Aniversario del Tratado de Roma, un paso extraordinario y excepcional en la historia, más que del Derecho, de la humanidad, con el objetivo de que los más execrables crímenes internacionales puedan ser juzgados, y desaparezca la impunidad en este ámbito, algo que desgraciadamente ha sido una constante en la historia. Tras la ratificación del estatuto por sesenta estados, el 1 de julio de 2002 entró en vigor.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir on a visit to Ethiopia in April. Photo: Getty Images.

When the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with the commission of international crimes a fractious relationship developed between the African Union (AU) – who claim that the president should be accorded immunity as a head of state – and the Court. There have been threats by many African states to withdraw from the ICC, and some have taken steps to do so. A meeting of African ministers in New York on 21 September, and an AU Commission proposal presented there by South Africa’s legal adviser, highlight both the ongoing tensions but also, importantly, the possibilities for resolution.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armed Libyan men wave their national flags during a demonstration marking the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution in Benghazi in February 2016. (AFP/Getty Images)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan militant Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli. The court claims that Werfalli — who operates under the Libyan National Army (LNA) — committed the war crime of murder over a series of brutal executions. With so many deserving perpetrators around the world, why go after Werfalli and what might this mean for Libya and the ICC itself?

The ICC has sought to address atrocities in Libya since the U.N. Security Council referred the country to the court in 2011. That includes its ongoing and tumultuous struggle to prosecute Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.…  Seguir leyendo »

The prospects for justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes are more daunting today than at any time in the past two decades. The underlying political landscape is less favorable for accountability as compared with the 1990s, when the first international tribunals were established following the end of the Cold War and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Rome Statute — the cornerstone of the international justice system — was completed in 1998. At the same time, there are important new opportunities to pursue justice through both national and international efforts.

One feature of the negative change is the ever-clearer division among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is the International Criminal Court biased against Africans

In early February, the African Union (A.U.) passed a nonbinding resolution encouraging member states to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the international justice institution that holds people accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Kenya’s government already has signaled that it may withdraw, after repeatedly arguing that the court is biased against Africans.

But ordinary Kenyans aren’t as convinced that the ICC is biased against Africa as some African leaders would have us believe. That’s what we found by conducting a public opinion survey in 2015. And here’s what’s most significant: Kenyan victims, who suffered or witnessed violence in their country, are far less likely to believe the ICC is biased against Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) child soldiers on the streets of Bunia in 2003 following a ceasefire with government. Reuters/Antony Njuguna

The international law of armed conflict seeks to protect civilians and those no longer taking part in hostilities from the worst effects of war. Serious violations of these laws covering armed conflict situations constitute war crimes. War crimes are a particular category of international crime, which can be tried by international criminal tribunals, like the International Criminal Court (ICC).

To date, the majority of war crimes prosecutions in international criminal tribunals have focused on crimes committed against civilians in armed conflicts. In last year’s Bemba judgment, for example, the ICC heard of a campaign of mass rape committed against civilians in the Central African Republic.…  Seguir leyendo »

In this Sept. 25, 2014, file photo, Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh addresses the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

In the weeks gone by, Africa been home to disturbing news for the causes of human rights and international justice. Last month, South Africa, Burundi and Gambia announced their decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. There is great fear among citizens and civil society organizations on the continent that these moves might spark a mass exodus of African states from the ICC.

In his defense of the country’s intent to withdraw from the court, the Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang called the ICC the “International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color.” Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has often been accused of human rights abuses and clamping down on political opponents.…  Seguir leyendo »

White Helmets search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building in Aleppo. Photo by Getty Images.

In May 2014 an attempt to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was vetoed by Russia and China. Since then, war crimes and crimes against humanity have escalated.

Civilians have been bombarded by chemical weapons, cluster munitions, incendiary devices and barrel bombs. Cities have been starved in medieval sieges, doctors and hospitals systematically attacked, food convoys obliterated or obstructed, and courageous rescuers like the Syrian ‘White Helmets’ deliberately killed. Thousands have been tortured or enslaved.

As one Free Syrian Army fighter said, inside Syria ‘it is like the apocalypse, the end of days’. It also feels like the last gasp of international humanitarian law and a return to a more primitive law of unbridled necessity.…  Seguir leyendo »

In just a few weeks, Burundi, South Africa and Gambia have announced that they would withdraw from the International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal investigating war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Since its creation in 1998, the I.C.C. has been hobbled by the refusal of major countries like the United States, China and Russia to subject themselves to its jurisdiction. But the recent defections by member states, on grounds that the court is biased and undermines peace, seem like an unprecedented blow to its legitimacy.

Yet even before the withdrawals were announced, the court itself was already trying to find a way out of African cases, and away from the types of wartime atrocities that have been its mainstay.…  Seguir leyendo »

The spirit of Nuremberg

It is now 70 years after what was perhaps the most important trial in the history of mankind. What makes this circumstance particularly significant is that it was the first time in history that a murderous regime of a defeated state was put to trial by the victorious powers after a particularly cruel and vicious war. The defendants were tried for acts that confounded human understanding or were not considered criminal before 1945. The exception were those few cases that were prosecuted for war crimes after World War I.

Perhaps it would be easy to disparage Nuremberg saying that the defeated had been tried by the “victors’ justice.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The trial of Côte d'Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo and the ex-militia leader Charles Blé Goudé, which opened at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month, made me reflect on the broader lessons for the west African country – and elsewhere. Does the ICC end conflict or help to exacerbate it?

A decade ago, I was a UN sanctions inspector in Côte d'Ivoire, a role I had previously performed in Liberia. I was an eyewitness to the devastation that Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president who is serving a 50-year jail sentence for war crimes, caused to Liberia and its neighbours.…  Seguir leyendo »

After days of wrangling to try and have him arrested the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has left South Africa before a court there could decide whether to arrest him.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been trying for years to have al-Bashir apprehended since charging him with the commission of atrocities against civilians in Darfur, which resulted in the deaths of over 300,000 people. He has flouted the ICC’s arrest warrant since it was issued in 2009, blithely travelling throughout Africa and the Middle East despite a UN Security Council resolution that requires all states to co-operate with the ICC.

There were some signs that this time, things might be different.…  Seguir leyendo »