I.P.O. Information Service

Prosecution of War Crimes Committed in Iraq

Memorandum by the President of the International Progress Organization

Vienna, 28 March 2003/P/RE/18123c-is

The President of the International Progress Organization, Professor Hans Koechler, today has issued a Memorandum on the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for International Crimes, Including the Crime of Aggression, in the Territory of Iraq. The Memorandum has been submitted to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Memorandum refers to the doctrine of universal jurisdiction in so far it has been incorporated into contemporary international law and into the domestic legal systems of United Nations member states. In view of misleading media reports about the competence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Memorandum explains the complex legal and political aspects of criminal responsibility in regard to the war of aggression presently being waged against Iraq. Resulting from the actual ratification status of the Rome Statute, the ICC has only jurisdiction over officials and personnel of the United Kingdom, but not of the United States and Iraq. The Memorandum explains that, in the case of this conflict, the ICC cannot exercise territorial jurisdiction because Iraq is not a State Party to the Rome Statute. The investigation and prosecution of citizens from countries that are not States Parties to the ICC treaty will have to be undertaken by the national judiciary of the respective states. The setting up of an ad hoc tribunal by the United Nations Security Council will neither be legally appropriate nor politically feasible. The investigation and prosecution of war crimes cases related to the war in Iraq by domestic courts on the basis of universal jurisdiction (as in the case of Belgium) may not be feasible either because of the interference of foreign policy considerations into eventual criminal proceedings against leaders of foreign countries.

Professor Hans Koechler is the author of the book "Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads" which will be published later this year. By nomination of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he served as international observer of the Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands (2000-2002). He issued two reports on the Lockerbie trial which received wide attention in the international media.

Text of the Memorandum

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