General Principles of Criminal Law in the Rome Statute

Criminal Law Forum, Vol. 10, pp. 1-32, 1999

32 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2011

See all articles by Kai Ambos

Kai Ambos

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Date Written: December 14, 1999


The following paper has a limited objective. It describes and critically analyses the general principles of the Rome Statute (arts. 22–33). The drafting history of these provisions has been described elsewhere. The analysis can be divided into three parts. First, it is necessary to look at the general principles in the strict sense. In addition to the nullum crimen and nulla poena principles (arts. 22–24), this category includes some provisions in Part 2 of the Statute (“Jurisdiction, Admissibility and Applicable Law”): the ne bis in idem rule (art. 20) and the provision on applicable law (art. 21). Second are the norms providing for individual criminal responsibility (arts. 25, 28, 30), provisions which can be further subdivided into objective elements (actus reus) and subjective elements (mens rea) of individual criminal responsibility. The third category covers defences, in particular the substantive grounds excluding criminal responsibility (arts. 26, 27, 29, 31–33).

Suggested Citation

Ambos, Kai, General Principles of Criminal Law in the Rome Statute (December 14, 1999). Criminal Law Forum, Vol. 10, pp. 1-32, 1999. Available at SSRN:

Kai Ambos (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5
Göttingen, 37073

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