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ICC member states still locked on crime of aggression

States signatory to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) on late Thursday remained locked after five days of protracted negotiations on the Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

The 111 ICC states including other non-member states like the U.S., Russia, and China as observers attending the ICC Review Conference here failed to reach the consensus on who is to determine that an act of aggression has been committed.

The conference that started on May 31 ends on Friday.

The President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Christian Wenaweser, on late Thursday night called on the delegates to have a consensus by Friday.

"I appeal to you to continue with your informal and formal discussion to try to bridge the existing gaps and come tomorrow (Friday) for the very final stretch," said Wenaweser.

"We shall conclude this (crime of aggression debate) tomorrow and make the final decision," he said before adjourning the late night session.

The major points of division are whether the UN Security Council should have the exclusive right to determine that an act of aggression has been committed or the ICC should independently make the determination.

Some states argue that the involvement of the Security Council which they refer to as a political body will undermine the judicial independence of the Court.

They including most African and some European countries argue that instead the ICC prosecutor should with approval of the Pre-Trail Chamber of the Court investigate whether a crime has been committed or not.

Another point of contention is that if the Security Council fails to make a determination on the crime of aggression after six months of the occurrence of the incident, the ICC prosecutor can go ahead and investigate.

"In the absence of such determination, the prosecutor may not proceed with the investigations in respect of a crime of aggression, unless the Security Council has, in a resolution adopted," reads an alternative version of the draft resolution on the jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

The draft in alternative two reads, "Where no such determination is made within six months after the date of notification, the prosecutor may proceed with the investigation in respect of a crime of aggression, provided that the pre-trial division has authorized the commencement of the investigation in respect of a crime of aggression."

The negotiations reopened last Friday on the sides of the ongoing first ICC Review Conference since the establishment of the court in 2002. Negotiations on the crime of aggression have stalled for over 10 years.

Negotiations on the crime of aggression have taken the center stage of the ongoing ICC Review Conference aimed at assessing the impact of the Court in addressing impunity that is of international concern like war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

[Source: Xinhua, Kampala, 10Jun10]

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Crime of Aggression
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