Side Event on Nuremberg Principle III at the 18th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute


During the 18th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy organized a panel discussion on “Head of State Immunities: Situating Nuremberg Principle III Within the Current International Legal Framework”. The side event took place at the World Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 4 December 2019.

The panel discussion had two primary goals: to reflect and situate Nuremberg Principle III in the current legal framework and to assess, in a forward-looking manner, where does this situating leave Nuremberg Principle III. Through the high-level expert meeting, it was maintained, and consensus was reached, that Nuremberg Principle III remains to be fundamental for the fight against impunity, equality of all before the law, and is a key element to ensuring accountability of all responsible under international law. In terms of forward-looking approach, it was also acknowledged that the International Law Commission is working on preserving the importance of Nuremberg Principle III, as a continuous legacy of its work. With respect to the perspective from customary international law, the event highlighted the need for further debates in terms of jus cogens crimes, their nature and scope. Finally, the panel considered whether the prosecution of these crimes is an inherent implication of their codification.

The panel was composed of the following experts:

  • Professor Claus Kreß, Universität zu Köln (moderator)
  • Klaus Rackwitz, International Nuremberg Principles Academy
  • Professor Concepción Escobar Hernández, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Member of the International Law Commission
  • Professor Leila Nadya Sadat, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Professor Dapo Akande, University of Oxford

Opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Joachim Bertele, Director for Public International Law, Federal Foreign Office, Germany. The event took place thanks to the support of Germany.

Nuremberg Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.