Codifying the ‘Laws of Humanity’ and the ‘Dictates of the Public Conscience’: Towards a New Global Treaty on Crimes Against Humanity
On the Proposed Crimes Against Humanity Convention, Morten Bergsmo & Song Tianying, eds., (2014), at pp. 17-46
31 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2015 Last revised: 18 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 21, 2015
On 17 July 2014 the United Nations International Law Commission voted to move the topic of a new treaty on crimes against humanity to its active agenda and appointed a Special Rapporteur. The expectation is that the Commission will ultimately send a complete set of Draft Articles to the United Nations General Assembly in due course. This could lead to the adoption of a new global treaty on crimes against humanity, filling a normative gap that has persisted for nearly seventy years. This chapter asks why – and whether – the international community should finally codify crimes against humanity in an international convention, particularly given its recent inclusion in the Statute of the International Criminal Court. It considers the normative foundations and practical application of crimes against humanity by international and national courts, and how a new treaty might strengthen both the preventive and punishment dimensions of national and international responses to these crimes. Finally, given the recent challenge to the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court by States resisting its jurisdiction as well as the more existential challenge posed by sceptics of international justice writ large, it offers a modest defence of what one might call ‘the international criminal justice project’ on legal and moral grounds.
Keywords: international justice, crimes against humanity, international criminal court, treaties, international law commission, international criminal law, war crimes, extradition, responsibility to protect, genocide
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation