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Prosecutors urge continued support of international tribunals

Current and former international prosecutors on Tuesday signed the fourth Chautauqua Declaration [text, PDF] praising recent advances in international law and urging countries to continue supporting the international courts in order to maintain the spirit of the Nuremburg Principles [text]. The prosecutors, who have worked with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official websites], as well as the International Military Tribunals, called for continued support and funding of the tribunals and courts as they continue working to maintain the rule of law. They urged countries to fulfill their obligations under international law by investigating and prosecuting, or transferring to the appropriate international court, suspects who violate international criminal law, including sitting heads of state. Countries were also encouraged to refrain from the use of military force and to settle disputes in accordance with the UN Charter [materials]. The prosecutors noted the fifteenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive] and the continuing need for accountability. They also recognized the first conviction of an ex-Khmer Rouge leader [JURIST report], which was announced by the ECCC in July. Additionally, the prosecutors applauded the ICC's adoption of an amendment [press release; JURIST report] to the Rome Statute [text, PDF] in June, which included a definition for the crime of aggression and created jurisdictional conditions for prosecution.

Under the ICC's new amendment, the UN Security Council [official website] will serve as the primary body in determining whether a crime of aggression has occurred. If the Security Council fails to make a determination, the ICC prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation on his own initiative or upon a request from an ICC state party. The Security Council can halt an investigation of a crime of aggression at any time through a resolution, but this resolution must be reinstated every 12 months. Non-state parties do not fall under ICC jurisdiction when the prosecutor initiates the investigation, and state parties can exempt themselves from jurisdiction over the crime of aggression by submitting a declaration of non-acceptance to the court. These exemptions, however, do not apply when the Security Council has determined that a crime of aggression has occurred. ICC nations were initially unable to reach a consensus [JURIST report] on the adoption of the crime of aggression, but compromise was reached as the UN Review Conference of the Rome Statute [materials] came to a close in Kampala, Uganda.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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