Defining the Crime of “Aggression”: An ICC Update

Back in October, we posted a short summary of the relationship between the ICC (International Criminal Court) and the crime of “aggression”. At that point, even though the ICC’s 1998 founding treaty included a mandate to prosecute crimes of aggression, the ICC was unable to actually pursue charges of aggression.

As we mentioned at that time, the 2010 amendments that made it possible for the court to prosecute an entity for this crime were finally ratified in 2016…but even after the amendments had been ratified, the text had not yet been promulgated and the amendments had not yet gone into effect.


Well we have some news! In December 2017, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (also known as “the Assembly”) met in New York and adopted six resolutions by consensus. Among them: The resolution on the activation of the jurisdiction of the Court over the crime of aggression. 

This is a very big deal and a welcome announcement for those who follow advances in human rights around the world. With this move, as described in the PDF we’ve attached here, “the Assembly recognized the historic significance of the consensual decision at the Kampala Review Conference to adopt the amendments to the Rome Statute and decided inter alia to activate the Court’s jurisdiction as of 17 July 2018.”

In another one of the six resolutions, the Assembly added three war crimes to the jurisdiction of the Court: 1.) employing microbial, biological or toxin weapons; 2.) employing weapons that injure by fragments undetectable by X-rays; 3.) and employing laser weapons.

Read the full announcement, and if you’d like to learn more or join our efforts to support the rulings of ICC and advance the development of international criminal law, please contact our office.