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Title: Defences to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Author: Bogan, S. A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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Abstract:
The topic of defences to crimes under international law has been described as the “most confused and contentious area of international criminal law” (M. Lippman, “Conundrums of Armed Conflict: Criminal Defenses to Violations of the Humanitarian Law of War”, (1996) 15 Dickinson Journal of International Law 1, pp. 1-2). While the Rome Statute of the International criminal Court offers, for the first time in the history of conventional international criminal law, a codification of available defences, this codification is only partial. Defences not enumerated within the Rome Statute may still be considered by the International Criminal Court where they derive from a defined set of “applicable law”. It is the purpose of this thesis to assist in the process of arriving at a comprehensive understanding of which defences may be raised and relied upon by defendants appearing before the International Criminal Court. This thesis seeks to assist in that process through two means. In Part One, this thesis examines the principal norms which govern the application and interpretation of law under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court in so far as they are relevant to determining the admissibility and content of defences to crimes under the Statute. Part One examines: (1) The “applicable law” of the Rome Statute. Defences not enumerated within the Statute must derive from the “applicable law”, as defined in Article 21 of the statute, in order to be considered by the International Criminal Court. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of which defences may be considered by the Court can only follow from an understanding of precisely which sources of law belong to the “applicable law” in Article 21 of the Statute. This thesis examines whether the “applicable law” of the Statute includes the entire corpus  of general international law, and which, if any, treaties, considered qua treaty law, are included; (2) The principle nullum crimen sine lege. This principle incorporates both rules of application and interpretation. It is argued that the principle (which is incorporated, inter alia, in Article 22 of the Rome Statute) is applicable to defences, and entails certain corollaries including a prohibition on the ex post facto repeal of pre-existing defences and a prohibition on the narrow construction of such defences contrary to the interests of defendants; (3) The extent of permissible judicial discretion under the Rome Statute.  Where a defence, not enumerated within the Rome Statute, derives nevertheless from the “applicable law” of the Statue and upon its proper interpretation would operate to exculpate the defendant, there is a question as to whether the International Criminal Court must admit that defence, or whether the admissibility of the defence is only discretionary, Article 31(3) of the Rome Statute states merely that the International Criminal Court “may” consider defences not enumerated within the Statute, a provision which is ostensibly discretionary. This thesis argues that the power of the International Criminal Court to consider and apply non-enumerated defences is not discretionary, but rather is a power to be exercised de jure. Where certain preconditions are met, the International Criminal Court must admit the relevant defence. This conclusion follows not merely from the principle nullum crimen sine lege, but also from the ordinary rules of construction of treaties as located in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Part Two of this thesis examines these rules of application and interpretation in concreto in the context of one particularly controversial defence, the defence of belligerent reprisals. Part Two incorporates an in-depth examination of the status of the defence under customary and conventional international law. Many of the arguments located in academic writings and (in obiter) in case law, seeking to deny the admissibility of the defence in certain or all circumstances, are juridically weak and, in some cases, inconsistent with the principle nullum crimen sine lege. This thesis concludes, however, that at least one of these arguments (positing a prohibition on the right to engage reprisals against persons and objects protected under the Geneva conventions of 1949 and Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, on the basis of an obligation on parties to those conventions to respect the conventions “in all circumstances”) while juridically weak, nevertheless is not violative of the principle nullum crimen sine lege  and may therefore be relied upon by the International Criminal Court, consistently with the rules of interpretation and application of the Rome Statute, as a basis for denying the defence of reprisals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.641753  DOI: Not available
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