WCC 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.
Crimes against humanity in North Korea - hearing
At the hearing, WCC officers serving as counsel presented a brief arguing and setting forth evidence of crimes against humanity in North Korean kwanliso (prison camps), and the individual criminal responsibility of the DPRK leadership for the commission of those crimes.
The hearing also featured the live testimony from three North Korean defectors: a former prisoner, a former prison guard, and a former official from the Ministry of People’s Security, which oversees North Korea’s network of political prisons.
Three renowned jurists presided over the hearing: Navanethem Pillay (Chair), Mark Harmon, and Thomas Buergenthal.
Collectively, these luminaries have served on the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC), and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Notably, it was during Ms Pillay’s tenure as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ('COI') conducted its investigation and issued its landmark report.
The hearing also featured testimony from renowned experts on North Korea’s gulags and its penal system generally – David Hawk and Ken Gause. With pro bono assistance from the law firm of Hogan Lovells, and 9 Bedford Row Chambers, the case was presented by officers of the IBA’s War Crimes Committee, Greg Kehoe, Federica D’Alessandra and Steven Kay QC, and WCC member Christy Sutherland.
The Inquiry is currently awaiting judges' deliberations.
The panel’s decision will be posted on this website as soon as available.