AJICJ Special Issue on Crimes Against Humanity

In 2014, the International Law Commission (“ILC”), a subsidiary expert body established by the UN General Assembly in 1947, added the topic “Crimes against Humanity” onto its program of work and appointed Prof. Sean Murphy (USA) as Special Rapporteur. Five years later, in 2019, the ILC completed the second reading of its draft articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. The Commission submitted its final text, with commentaries, to the UN General Assembly with a recommendation that States either elaborate a convention in the UN or convene a diplomatic conference to negotiate a convention based on the draft articles. 

In the subsequent autumn 2019 Sixth Committee debate, many States welcomed the ILC draft articles and endorsed one or the other of the ILC recommendations. Austria offered to host the diplomatic conference in Vienna. However, citing various reasons including concerns about the definition of the crime and a parallel initiative promoting a mutual legal assistance treaty for core crimes, a number of other States expressed some doubts. In the end, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 74/187, on 18 December 2019, in which it took note of the ILC draft articles and decided to include the topic in the provisional agenda of its 75th (2020) session with the view to continuing to examine the ILC recommendation. 

The year 2020 seems crucial for the General Assembly’s decision on crimes against humanity. It also appears significant that 43 States expressed disappointment that the Sixth Committee was unable to agree on an “ambitious and structured approach” to the deliberations on the ILC recommendation. Those States hoped that the Sixth Committee could reach a consensus to decide on the item next year. 

In view of the potential significance of this proposed new treaty to the international community’s fight against impunity, and its likely role as a useful complement to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1948, the African Journal of International Criminal Justice invited experts to assess the ILC draft articles and subsequently published a special issue bringing bring together the views of the leading scholars and practitioners of international criminal law on the ILC draft crimes against humanity articles. The primary goal was to examine, at a technical level, the concerns expressed by States that opposed specific aspects of the ILC draft text and recommendation as well as discuss elements of the ILC’s work more broadly including possible areas of improvements should States decide to take the item forward.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Sean D. Murphy

Introduction to the Symposium on a Way Forward by Charles C. Jalloh and Liela N. Dadat

The ILC Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity: An African Perspective by Alhagi B.M. Marong

Why a Crimes Against Humanity Convention from a Perspective of Post-Soviet States? by Sergey Sayapin

Crimes Against Humanity in the “Western European & Other” Group of States: A Continuing Tradition by Beth Van Schaack

Asian Perspectives on the International Law Commission’s Work on Crimes Against Humanity by Mari Takeuchi

An Analysis of State Reactions to the ILC’s Work on Crimes Against Humanity: A Pattern of Growing Support by Leila N. Sadat and Madaline George

A Civil Society Perspective on the ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity by Hugo Relva

Defining Crimes Against Humanity by Margaret M. deGuzman

Gender and the ILC’s 2019 Draft Article on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity by Indira Rosenthal and Valerie Oosterveld

ILC Report on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity and Enforced Disappearance by Claudio Grossman

The International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity: Incitement/Conspiracy as Missing Modes of Liability by Joseph Rikhof

Interstate Cooperation and Why a Horizontal Treaty Would Make a Difference for ICC Investigations by George William Mugwanya

Relating to ‘The Other’: The ILC Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity and the Mutual Legal Assistance Initiative by Larissa van den Herik

Unlocking the Sixth Committee’s Potential to Act of Crimes Against Humanity as It Did for Genocide by Michael Imran Kanu

Time to Deliver: Defining a Process Towards the Negotiation of a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity by Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga