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TakeAction for January 2018: ICC activates jurisdiction over crime of aggression; Canada should now ratify the Kampala amendments

Negotiations last December in New York at the meeting of the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties led to a historic, consensus decision to “activate” the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

Canada should now ratify the “Kampala amendments” in order to come within the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.


While the Court has since its founding had a mandate to prosecute those individual military and political leaders responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Court’s founding treaty also provides that the Court may assert jurisdiction over a fourth category of crimes – aggression. However, negotiators of the Rome Statute made adoption of the ICC jurisdiction over aggression subject to agreement on a definition of aggression and on conditions for the activation of ICC jurisdiction for the crime.

At a 2010 review conference in Kampala Uganda, ICC parties agreed on amendments to the Rome Statute that satisfied the requirements for including aggression among the ICC’s core crimes. The required 30 ratifications to the Kampala amendments has been surpassed. However, the amendments also called for a political decision, by a minimum of two-thirds of ICC states parties, to “activate” the Court’s jurisdiction over aggression, no earlier than seven years following the Kampala review conference. This decision to activate the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression occurred a few weeks ago at the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties meeting.

Canadian diplomats were active players at those December meetings, seeking (and obtaining) “clarifications” to legal texts that would spell out clearly the application of the Court jurisdiction, clarifications that had been sought not only by Canadian officials, but also those from the UK, France, Norway, Japan and others.

Now that the aggression amendments have been agreed and incorporated, on terms that Canada wanted, it would be reasonable to expect Canada to ratify the Kampala amendments very soon.

Over the years Canada has been one of the key middle power champions of an effective International Criminal Court. Canada led a group of like-minded states during the negotiation of the Rome Statute (the Court’s founding treaty) and was among the first to incorporate the domestic changes necessary to come into compliance with the treaty, using legislation that became a model for many other countries around the world.

Canada’s can extend this country’s historic support for the ICC and demonstrate its support for including the crime of aggression as one of the ICC’s four core crimes by ratifying the Kampala amendments.

What you can do

Write to Foreign Minister Freeland encouraging a speedy decision by Canada to ratify the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute thereby allowing Canada to come within the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. A sample email is available here.

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