TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE, WAR CRIMES, GENOCIDE
After the failure of the League of Nations and the establishment of the United Nations, many believed that the end to war and conflict would be found within the UN. The mission statement of the UN is “the maintenance of international peace and security.” This is a daunting goal, but one that is fundamental to human existence. Without the ability to live in a free world, social change, development, and progress are greatly hindered. In 2002, The world made a significant step to prevent war crimes; The international community took crimes of aggression, Genocide, and crimes against humanity. The United Nations created a court known as the International Criminal Court to prosecute those who represent the very worst of humanity, those who commit crimes that destabilize the notion of humanity itself. The laws of the International criminal court fall under the Rome Statute.
The International Criminal Court recognizes that The international community can not achieve global justice and accountability without collaboration on the national level, which points to how the International Criminal Court should only be used as a last resort. The onus remains upon the federal courts to prosecute those who commit heinous crimes.
WHAT ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
Despite the seriousness of the term, it is unclear where Crimes against humanity originated from or who coined it. However, its emergence is tied to the colonial era concerning the slave trade and the act of slavery itself. Crimes against humanity is widely used in the international criminal law context. Some states have implemented legislation to prohibit crimes against humanity. By that same token, many have yet to do so. Crimes against humanity include murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, and torture. Gender and sexual-based crimes against humanity are rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious grounds is also included as crimes against humanity. Last, enforced disappearance of persons, apartheid and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to the body or mental or physical health all constitute war crimes.
WHAT ARE GENOCIDE, CRIMES OF AGGRESSION, AND WAR CRIMES?
According to the United Nations, Genocide means the killing of members of a group, causing severe mental or holiday harm to group, purposefully inflicting conditions on a group to bring physical destruction, implementing measures to prevent births, and the forcible transfer of children, against a particular group of people. For a crime to constitute Genocide, there must be two components; the guilty mind, intent, and the guilty act, which is the physical act of Genocide. The Holocaust one of the most globally recognized Genocide that has occurred in the past century, and the Holocaust inspired the development of the term “genocide.” Other examples of Genocide include the Rwandan Genocide and the Genocide of Indigenous people in the U.S. and Canada.
In 2017, Crimes of Aggression was introduced as the fourth “core” crime of the International Criminal Court as per the Rome Statute. There are three facets of crimes of aggression; responsibility in leaders, it’s applicable to individual people and not states. According to the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, the definition of said crime is “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. These acts can include, among others, invasion, military occupation, and annexation by the use of force, blockade by the ports or coasts.”
War crimes are outlined by the Geneva Conventions and The Hague Conventions. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, war crimes are “serious breaches of international humanitarian law committed against civilians or enemy combatants during an international or domestic armed conflict, for which the perpetrators may be held criminally liable on an individual basis.”
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
An International Criminal Court establishment is fundamental to pursuing a just, peaceful, and responsible world. Without the rule of law, there is no accountability for the aforementioned heinous crimes that destroy nations, regions, and groups of people. Those who perpetrate these crimes must know that legally binding laws prohibit them from committing an international crime. By ending impunity, there will be fewer violations of international law.