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A Strategic Choice: The State Policy Requirement in Core International Crimes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2015


The article focuses on one of the most intriguing and, at the same time, controversial issues of international criminal law: whether the state policy requirement should be considered as a constitutive element in core international crimes. Adopting a criminal policy perspective, my intention is to contribute to the ongoing discussion by offering a doctrinal and criminological corroboration of the position that answers in the affirmative. Nevertheless, I am not necessarily promoting a normative choice entailing the amendment of the definition of core international crimes, but I rather call for a policy choice of focusing on cases that presume a state policy component.

HAGUE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS: International Criminal Courts and Tribunals
Copyright © Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law 2015 

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60 At para. 4 of the commentary it is noted that ‘the words “aggression committed by a State” clearly indicate that such a violation of the law by a State is a sine qua non condition for the possible attribution to an individual of responsibility for a crime of aggression’. UN Doc. A/51/10 (1996), 43.

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102 Prosecutor v. Martic, Judgment, Case No. IT-95-11-T, T. Ch., 12 June 2007, para. 49.

103 Prosecutor v. Kajelijeli, Judgment and Sentence, ICTR-98-44A-T, T. Ch., 1 December 2003, para. 872. Prosecutor v. Muhimana, Judgment and Sentence, Case No. ICTR-95-1B-T, T. Ch., 28 April 2005, para. 527.

104 Article 21(l)(a) ICCSt. obliges the Court to apply ‘in the first place, this Statute, Elements of Crimes and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence’.

105 Situation in the Republic of Kenya, Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Kenya, ICC-01/09, Pre-T. Ch. IΙ, 31 March 2010.

106 Ibid., para. 92.

107 Ibid., para. 90 (footnote omitted).

108 Ibid., para. 93. For a critical appraisal of this teleological construction of the term ‘organization’ see Kress, C., ‘On the Outer Limits of Crimes against Humanity. The Concept of Organization within the Policy Requirement. Some Reflections on the March 2010 ICC Kenya Decision’, (2010) 23 LJIL 855CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

109 Situation in the Republic of Kenya, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, ICC-01/09, 31 March 2010, para. 51.

110 Ibid., paras. 54–70. See also Kress, supra note 108, at 863–6. M. Holvoet, ‘The State or Organisational Policy Requirement within the Definition of Crimes Against Humanity in the Rome Statute: An Appraisal of the Emerging Jurisprudence and the Implementation Practice by ICC States Parties’, International Crimes Database, October 2013.

111 Situation en République Démocratique du Congo, Affaire Le Procureur c. Germain Katanga, Jugement rendu en application de l'article 74 du Statut, ICC- 01/04-01/07, La Chambre de Première Instance II, 7 Mars 2014, paras. 1118–22.

112 Situation In The Republic Of Côte D'Ivoire, Decision on the Confirmation of Charges against Laurent Gbagbo, ICC-02/11-01/11, Pre-T. Ch. I, 12 June 2014, para. 217.

113 See also the arguments in favour of an amendment of Art. 7 ICCSt. in C. Chernor Jalloh, ‘What Makes a Crime Against Humanity a Crime Against Humanity’, (2013) 28 American University International Law Review, at 435ff.

114 Werle and Burghardt, supra note 1, at 1167. In the same vein, Hansen, T. Obel, ‘The Policy Requirement in Crimes Against Humanity: Lessons from and for the Case of Kenya’, (2011) 43 George Washington International Law Review, 31 at 31 ffGoogle Scholar.

115 C. Frances Moran, ‘Beyond the State: The Future of International Criminal Law’, International Crimes Database, September 2014. The problem with such an approach is that ‘amounts to a misstatement of the proper relationship between international human rights law and international criminal law. While it is certainly possible to say that international criminal law has come to be an instrument to protect and enforce (a limited number of fundamental) international human rights there can be no presumption in favour of a broad teleological interpretation of international criminal law as a back door for a progressive development of international human rights law. The sequence can only be the other way round: only once the obligation of an organization to respect international human rights can be clearly established under general international law can a human-rights-inspired teleological argument to include such organizations in the policy requirement of crimes against humanity become available’. Kress, supra note 108, at 860–1.

116 A. A. Cançado Trindade, International Law for Humankind. Towards a New Jus Gentium (2010), at 372.