Panel Discussion on International Criminal Law - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Dorsey and Whitney Chair in Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law and Associate Director at the Transitional Justice Institute of the University of Ulster spoke about addressing access to justice, accountability and reparations in the context of international criminal law enforcement. Starting off, Ní Aoláin gave a brief insight into the history and transition within international law before discussing the nature of the crimes covered by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC): war crimes, crimes against humanity, crime of aggression and genocide. The principle of complementarity being the heart of the ICC Statute, Ní Aoláin pointed out that the challenge is how to act when there is a de-functional legal system on national level. She concluded with a few words on reparations. Seeing that victims are often utilized to push forward political agendas while the responsibilities and duties towards them are left aside, reparations are a vital issue. The ICC has mandates that intend to counter the marginalization of reparations such as the ‘ICC Trust Fund for Victims’ which does not only provide rehabilitation assistance but also operates to reach out and essentially promotes and supports victims in the process of criminal accountability.
The second speaker Kai Ambos, Professor of International Criminal Law at the University of Göttingen and Judge at the Provincial Court Göttingen, focused on criminal liability under the International Criminal Court’s Statute. When questioning criminal liability a distinction between perpetrator and accessary has to be made. In other words, there are different legal conceptions of criminal responsibility and mere participation in a crime. Regarding liability the Rome Statue differentiates between a) perpetration (direct perpetration, perpetration by means and co-perpetration), b) complicity (inducement or aiding abetting) and c) extensions which cover any other contributions to group crimes. The perpetual challenge, however, is linking the perpetrators to the crimes and legally holding them accountable.
Following the lectures, the audience and the two speakers engaged in a lively discussion on the principles of the ICC and their legitimacy, transitional justice, means of punishment and the context of compensation.