Nuremberg Academy Lecture 2023: Claus Kreß on “The Ukraine War and the Crime of Aggression”
Since 2020 the International Nuremberg Principles Academy has started the Nuremberg Academy Lectures as a series of public lectures on current issues of international criminal law. On 4 May 2023, the second Nuremberg Academy Lecture took place at the historic Courtroom 600 on “The Ukraine War and the Crime of Aggression”. The speaker of the lecture was no one less than the renowned international law professor Dr Dres h.c. Claus Kreß from the Universität zu Köln. Speaking in the very room where the crime of aggression was tried for the first time in history Professor Kreß focused on the necessity to end impunity for the crime of aggression for Heads of States. He highlighted the crime of aggression is not to be seen as some special crime necessitating particular jurisdictional requirements. It is equal amongst the other crimes tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The prosecution of the crime of aggression is particularly necessary in order to criminalise also the killing of combatants or civilians falling short of amounting to war crimes. Next to amending the Rome Statute of the ICC for harmonising the jurisdictional regimes of all four crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, Professor Kreß also calls for the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal for the situation in Ukraine and the crime of aggression committed on the territory of Ukraine.
After the lecture, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, Katja Keul, explained the position of the Federal Government. Pressing also for the prosecution of the crime of aggression as well as for the amendment of the Rome Statute, she favoured the empowerment of the Ukraine judiciary to prosecute the crime of aggression with massive support of the international community. Such a construction however would have to respect Head of State immunities. Professor Kreß and Minister Keul entered into a vivid discussion and explained their respective views in greater detail. In the end one agreed to disagree on this one point.
The event was moderated by Deputy Director Dr Viviane Dittrich. The lecture was prefaced by a set of formal opening remarks from representatives of the Nuremberg Academy Foundation Board and Advisory Council
· Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, Director-General for Legal Affairs of the German Federal Foreign Office,
· Marcus König, Lord Mayor of the City of Nuremberg,
· Dr Thomas Dickert, President of the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg,
· Dr Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of the Advisory Council of the Nuremberg Academy,
as well as by an introduction from Nuremberg Academy Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling.
Please find here below the lecture manuscript by Professor Kreß, statement by Minister of State Keul, photo impressions from the event as well as the video of the Nuremberg Academy Lecture 2023.
The inaugural Nuremberg Academy Lecture was held by Philippe Sands on “International Justice and Personal Stories”, a recording of which is available here.