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ICC states start intense negotiations on crime of aggression

States signatory to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) started intense negotiations on Friday on the Court's jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

Delegates from 111 states meeting here at the ongoing Review Conference of the Rome Statute are divided on whether the UN Security Council should have exclusive mandate to determine whether act of aggression has been committed.

A joint statement from the African states said that the ICC should be independent of the decisions of the Security Council regarding the crime.

"It is the view of African states that to subject the Court's exercise of jurisdiction to political bodies such as the UN Security Council will hamper the Court's ability to discharge its judicial mandate especially in sensitive cases," the statement read by a representative from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The African states proposed that the Prosecutor of the ICC can go ahead and investigate whether a crime has been committed with the determination from the Security Council or act independently when the Security Council fails to make a determination.

Japan which said its citizens have been tried before over the crime argued that the Court should have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

It urged states that in all negotiations they should target strengthening the Court instead of weakening it.

Canada said that the missing piece in the fight against impunity is the crime of aggression. It urged states to resolve the differences by consensus so that negotiations that started over eight years ago are concluded amicably.

Trinidad and Tobago like the African states argued that inclusion of an external filter like the Security Council would undermine the independence of the Court.

Britain said that as a permanent member of the Security Council, it can use its position in assisting the Court in its dealings with the Council.

"We believe that there needs to be an amicable and mutually reinforcing relationship between the Security Council and the ICC, " the British statement said.

The United States of America appealed to the states not to hurriedly rush through the negotiations because there is no consensus on the definition of the crime of aggression and jurisdictional conditions.

"Finishing the unfinished business of Rome does not mean rushing to a premature conclusion on institution-transforming amendments on which there is not yet genuine consensus," said the statement read by Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Advisor U.S. Department of State.

The negotiations are expected to be concluded on Tuesday next week.

[Source: Xinhua, Kampala, 04Jun10]

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Crime of Aggression
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