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Understand and advocate for war crimes to be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court, including the persecution of artists and the destruction of cultural heritage.

PROSECUTE
WAR CRIMES

A BRIEF CONTEXT 

“Common bonds unite all peoples, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage and concern’’ 

THE ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

 

INTRODUCTION: GENEVA CONVENTIONS

        The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international humanitarian laws that define the basic rights and protections for wartime prisoners, civilians, and military personnel, including those wounded and sick in and around a war zone.

      In 1949, an international conference of diplomats came together, building on the earlier treaties and updating them into four new conventions comprising 429 articles of law - known as the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949.

       The ICC and the Geneva Conventions complement each other by providing standards and guidelines for the treatment of individuals during armed conflicts.

INTRODUCTION: ROME STATUTE

      On 17 July 1998, a conference of 160 States established the first treaty-based permanent international criminal court. The treaty adopted during that conference is known as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Among other things, it sets out the crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

      The countries which have accepted these rules are known as States Parties and are represented in the Assembly of States Parties.

INTRODUCTION: INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT 

      Created in 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC or the Court) is the first and only permanent international court. Based in The Hague in the Netherlands it is established to investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, including:

1. Genocide

2. War crimes

3. Crimes against humanity

4. The crime of aggression

      The ICC's purported mission is to end impunity globally through international criminal justice, holding those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.

     Set up as an independent body to try individuals (not groups or States) for crimes within its jurisdiction without the need for a special mandate from the United Nations. The Court can only exercise jurisdiction with respect to events which occurred after 1 July 2002. 

THE ICC & PALESTINE 

       ICC jurisdiction is limited to the territories and nationals of state parties. Whilst the Palestinian Authority submitted a declaration in 2009, it was deemed  invalid as Palestine was not recognised as a "state" but instead a  "observer entity" within the United Nations. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly recognised Palestine as a non-member observer state.

      Palestine became the 123rd member (state party) of the ICC On April 1, 2015 accepting the jurisdiction of the Court over war crimes and other serious international crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014. 

     Israel, the US, UK, France, Canada and several other states suggesting it would be counterproductive and that justice would get in the way of "peace".

     Israel is not a member of the ICC and disputes the Court's jurisdiction on the basis that Palestine is not a sovereign state capable of being a party to the Rome Statute.

CRITICISMS

      The ICC has faced criticisms from governments and civil society groups, which include objections to its jurisdiction, accusations of bias, Eurocentrism and racism, as well as questions of the fairness of its case selection and trial procedures, and doubts about its effectiveness.

INTRODUCTION: THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

      The ICJ, also called the World Court, is the highest United Nations legal body that can adjudicate on issues between member states. It is separate from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which tries individuals in criminal cases.

       The ICJ comprises 15 judges appointed for nine-year terms through elections at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the Security Council (UNSC). The court’s rulings are binding and cannot be appealed by member states, but it depends on the UNSC to enforce the decisions.

       South Africa has accused Israel of committing the crime of genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries are party to.

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE VS THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT 

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WAR CRIMES & THE TARGETING OF CULTURE

      In 2016, the ICC convicted Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi of intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali. It was the first time that the ICC had brought a war crimes charge against a defendant for the destruction of cultural sites.

      The successful prosecution was celebrated by UNESCO and other heritage experts around the world, setting a precedent and offering hope that other war-related damage to Syria’s cultural heritage might one day be held accountable in a legal forum.

War crimes include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict and in conflicts “not of an international character” listed in the Rome Statute, when they are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale.

      Under international law, Israel's deliberate stealing from or targeting religious, historical, and cultural sites is prohibited, and is considered to be war crimes, and can be tried in the ICC. 

READ ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION OF PALESTINIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE >>

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY & PERSECUTION OF ARTISTS

      Crimes against humanity include acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. This includes the persecution, killing or causing severe mental or physical harm to a person, all crimes against humanity which can be tried in the ICC.

      Systematic targeting of artists potentially falls under this category including cultural attacks which are intended to erase identities and memories in the name of religion, politics or conquest.

READ ABOUT THE KILLING OF PALESTINIAN ARTISTS >>

READ ABOUT THE IMPRISONMENT OF PALESTINIAN ARTISTS >>

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW

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