Comments on the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity

The IBA WCC has issued comments on the International Law Commission's 2017 Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity, provisionally adopted by the Commission in 2017 in view of developing a future international convention on crimes against humanity. The draft articles, which are intended to have horizontal and global application, cover subjects including the definition of the crime, states' duty to investigate and prosecute, criminalisation under domestic law, extradition and mutual legal assistance, and the treatment of victims and accused. The Commission invited comments on the draft articles from governments and civil society by 1 December 2018, with the intention of ultimately submitting the draft articles to the United Nations General Assembly.

In its comments, the WCC expressed its firm support for the initiative, and focused upon strengthening and clarifying key provisions within the text to render the articles as effective as possible towards both the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. Among other things, the WCC recommended including an explicit provision referencing state responsibility for crimes against humanity, commented upon both the costs and benefits to retaining the definition of the crime set forth in the Rome Statute, and submitted that the draft articles do not constitute an exhaustive compilation of customary international law and cannot preclude the application of broader definitions of the crime. The WCC also proposed options to strengthen the provision regarding the liability of legal persons, language to bolster the preventative aspect of the duty to investigate, and ways to ensure that states cannot evade their obligations in relation to extradition and mutual legal assistance. The WCC remains engaged in the initiative and will be closely following its progress in the months to come.

Download the WCC Comments on the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity here.