A Plea to Reinforce Peace: Calling for Activation of the International Criminal Court’s Exercise of Jurisdiction over the Crime of Aggression
By Jutta F. Bertram-Nothnagel September 2017
The long-awaited decision by the Assembly of States Parties to enable the International Criminal Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the crime of aggression is urgently needed and cannot happen soon enough. As spelled out with more detail by article 8 of the Rome Statute, the crime is committed by a person in a position effectively to control or to direct the political or military action of a State and requires the planning, preparation, initiation or execution of a State act of aggression which, by its gravity, character and scale, amounts to a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations: The armed force of a State is unleashed upon another State with no justification in sight. Not at all in the defense of a country, not at all in the defense of a people, but in the service of a crime that cries to heaven, soldiers are ordered to shoot and bomb a made-up ‘enemy’. Without good cause under the law of nations, they are misused as tools of the crime and turned into its cannon fodder.
Heroism and comradeship are exploited for hypocrisy and the expansion of power. The victim State is trampled, its territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence smashed into conceptual smithereens. Lives are ruined and families decimated. The human right to peace must not be recognized! Freedom is the freedom of the aggressor. Nightmares keep morphing into relentless reality, – See Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), art. 15 bis (3), 15 ter (3); see also Resolution RC/Res.6 of the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, pp 6. “Nightmares keep morphing into relentless reality, – combatants returning in wheel chairs or body bags, sailors sunk in the oceans, pilots ripped from the skies, and civilians sacrificed and euphemized as ‘collateral damage’ ”. Instead of laughter from fields and gardens, last prayers from ditches and rubble. All ‘normal’ war, – no war crimes necessary!
The degradation and slaughter of body and soul violate human dignity to its very core. The urgency for activating the Court’s authority over the crime can scarcely be exaggerated. Everything possible must be done, and must be done now, to prevent crimes of aggression. First, the world is faced with catastrophic threats to its environmental, social and economic sustainability, requiring global cooperation to address them. Each armed conflict disrupts such cooperation. Second, we are sitting on the most horrific powder keg of all times. Since the dawn of the age of nuclear weapons, the numbers of civilian deaths argued to be proportionate to military objectives and thus acceptable ‘collateral damage’ has crept up into the unfathomable. We are talking crimes against humanity that make the devil blush.