United Nations Commission to conduct treaty on crimes against humanity


A key UN commission took the first step on Friday to negotiate a treaty on crimes against humanity, which can happen at any time, not just in conflicts.

The Legal Affairs Committee adopted a consensus resolution allowing its members to hold sessions in April 2023 and April 2024 to exchange views on the terms draft for a treaty was submitted by the Commission on International Law, an expert body of the United Nations tasked with developing international affairs. law.

The legal committee will then make a decision on proposing a treaty during the General Assembly session beginning September 2024, according to the draft.

The resolution’ has now been forwarded to the 193-member council and it is almost certain that it will be adopted before the end of the year.

Richard Dicker, senior legal counsel for advocacy at Human Rights Watch, said: “With crimes against humanity rampant in recent months in countries like Myanmar, Ukraine and Ethiopia, the move towards negotiating a treaty to stop these crimes is a positive move.” despite being overdue.”

While there are international treaties that focus on the crimes of genocide, torture, racism and forced disappearances, Human Rights Watch says there is no international treaty specifically dedicated to the crimes. evil against humanity.

Crimes against humanity have been determined by the International Criminal Court.

According to the human rights group, they are acts of murder, rape, torture, racism, deportation, ill-treatment and other crimes “committed as part of a widespread attack or systematic targeting of civilians based on government or organizational policy.”

The proposed treaty submitted by the Law Commission in 2019 would require all ratifying countries to include definitions of these acts in their national laws and take steps to prevent them as well. such as punishing those responsible for crimes against humanity in their national courts, the rights group said.

The draft resolution states that the General Assembly is “deeply disturbed by the persistence of crimes against humanity” and recognizes “the need to prevent and punish such crimes, which are one of the most serious crimes of concern to the entire international community.”

Human Rights Watch said the resolution had been delayed for three years by several countries including Russia and China, but a new attempt was made this year on a resolution to take the first step. and they agreed to reach a consensus after weeks of intense negotiations. .

“A treaty banning crimes against humanity would offer more protection to civilians and today’s decision is a step forward in expanding the rule of law at a time when that very concept is under attack. intense,” said Dicker of the human rights group.

To that end, he said, “it is important for supportive governments to ensure that civil society will be able to contribute fully to the discussions over the next two years.”

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