27 March 1996


27 March 1996

Press Release


19960327 Others Say Adding `Core Crimes' to Draft Statute Will Further Delay Court's Establishment

The vast destruction of lives and property caused by international terrorism qualified that crime to be included among the "core crimes" over which the proposed international criminal court should have jurisdiction, the Preparatory Committee on the establishment of the court was told this afternoon.

The representative of India said that international terrorism posed a challenge to the international community that had been recognized by world public opinion, as well as by world leaders. The representative of the Russian Federation supported the inclusion of terrorism among the core crimes, but said that only the most serious cases should be prosecuted. The court should not move against isolated cases of kidnapping, hijacking and other incidents.

A number of speakers pointed out that any attempt to add more crimes to the core crimes already included in the draft statute could result in protracted discussions, which could lead to further delay in the establishment of an international criminal court. The representative of Ghana said that the proposed court should confine itself to core crimes indicated in the draft statute since any attempt at any further addition could lead to a paralysis of political will necessary for the acceptance of the court by states.

The representative of Denmark suggested that the statute of the court should be drafted to include a provision for a future review conference, at which the addition of other crimes to the court's jurisdiction could be discussed. The representative of South Africa said that while he understood the desire to include treaty crimes, such as those proscribing terrorism, the inclusion of those crimes would require their definition -- a process that would indefinitely delay the establishment of the criminal court.

The representative of the United States said that violation of the United Nations Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel might well be placed under the jurisdiction of the international criminal court. Attacks on peace-keepers and others were an affront to the United Nations and the community as a whole.

Her Government did not favour the empowerment of the proposed court to prosecute drug-trafficking or terrorism, she said. While both had an international dimension, that in and of itself was not a sufficient rationale for them to be placed within the purview of the court. Some delegations had presumed that the Sharm El Sheik "terrorism summit" (which took place in Egypt on 13 March) had endorsed the proposed court's jurisdiction over terrorism. The United States had not made that inference.

The representative of France also said that the court's competence should be limited to core crimes which were massive in nature. His Government believed that terrorism was better addressed through national prosecution and inter-governmental cooperation. The idea of granting the court a review mechanism to consider additional crimes was acceptable, but it would be premature to determine which individual subjects would eventually be discussed by such review conferences.

China's representative said that the Preparatory Committee should determine whether crimes described in treaties between two or more States should be placed under the jurisdiction of the proposed court.

The representative of Israel said that he did not see why an international criminal court should be deprived the right to try such crimes. The International Crime Court could exercise jurisdiction in such cases in which national trial procedures were unavailable or ineffective.

Austria, Sweden, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Netherlands said that treaty-based crimes should be adjudicated at the national level. Drug trafficking and terrorism fell into that category, several of the delegations said.

The representatives of Lebanon, Libya and Qatar urged that a distinction be drawn between terrorism and the struggle for national liberation and self- determination, a right long-recognized in United Nations fora. The representative of Pakistan said that colonial and occupying powers had always sought to suppress liberation movements by designating their activities as "terrorist". Foreign domination itself was a form of terrorism.

Also this afternoon, the Preparatory Committee completed its discussion on the prosecution of the crime of aggression by the proposed court. The representative of Nigeria said that the issue of aggression should be handled with extreme caution and more time was needed to ponder its inclusion, while awaiting the completion of the Draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and

International Criminal Court - 3 - Press Release L/2766 6th Meeting (PM) 27 March 1996

Security of Mankind by the International Law Commission. Her country had expressed support for inclusion of only serious crimes in the court's jurisdiction.

The representatives of Kyrgzstan, Bulgaria and Thailand spoke in favour of including a comprehensively-defined crime of aggression as one of the core crimes.

The representative of Cameroon said that many speakers had exaggerated the difficulty of defining aggression. It would be wrong to send the matter to a vague conference that might or might not take place at a later date. The representative of New Zealand said that she rejected the notion of a review conference. Fifty years ago, the same mistake had been made when governments presumed that the Charter would be subject to review. "Such reviews never happen", she said.

Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Belgium, Portugal, Lesotho, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, and Ireland.

When it meets again tomorrow, 28 March, the Preparatory Committee will continue its discussion of additional crimes to be considered by the proposed criminal court.

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For information media. Not an official record.