Estonia Joined Amendment on the Crime of Aggression in International Criminal Court
On 27 March, Estonian Ambassador to the UN Margus Kolga presented a letter of ratification of amendments to the Rome Statue to UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O'Brien in New York. The amendments primarily address the crime of aggression.
Also present at the presentation of the letter of ratification was President of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court Tiina Intelmann, who expressed satisfaction over the ratification and encouraged other countries to follow Estonia’s example.
Ambassador Kolga said that Estonia is the second country in the European Union and the fifth country in the world to ratify the amendments on the crime of aggression. “The goal of the amendments is to make it possible to bring to trial political and military leaders that have initiated acts of aggression,” Kolga noted. “The amendments also protect potential victims of aggression,” he added.
The International Criminal Court will gain the right to investigate crimes of aggression as of 2017, on the condition that the Kampala amendments have been ratified by 30 countries. This is why it is essential that the amendments be ratified by as many of the participating countries as possible.
Estonia has repeatedly called on countries to join the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court and for the member states of the court to join the Kampala amendments.
In order to hold an individual responsible for a crime of aggression, an act of aggression must have been committed. A crime of aggression means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position that allows him or her to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a state. Therefore crimes of aggression can first and foremost be committed by heads of state and government, as well as military leaders. An act of aggression means the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state. In addition, an act of aggression by its character, gravity and scale constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
In Kampala, the capital of Uganda, in June of 2010, the primary points of contention in reaching an agreement were related to the conditions in which the court can exercise its jurisdiction. A compromise was reached by which the court can first and foremost start an investigation when a situation is referred by the UN Security Council. Under certain circumstances the start of an investigation can be requested by the state itself, or the court can initiate a request.
The need to compile the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute came about because during the negotiations of the Rome Statute in 1998, which ended in the creation of the International Criminal Court, a consensus was not reached regarding the definition and jurisdictional conditions of crimes of aggression.