The Crime of Aggression

The Crime of Aggression


In 1945 the Crime of Aggression was prosecuted for the first time in history before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. The crime was described by the tribunal as the “supreme international crime” as it “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.  In his iconic opening statement, Robert Jackson described the trial as representing “mankind’s desperate effort to apply the discipline of the law to statesmen who have used their powers of state to attack the foundations of the world’s peace and to commit aggressions against the rights of their neighbors.”

Nuremberg Principle VI (a) included the crime of aggression (as part of the crimes against peace) under its remit.

In furtherance of this legacy, the Nuremberg Academy is involved in multiple activities that seek to strengthen the fight against the crime of aggression.

On 8 May 2023, the Nuremberg Declaration on the Crime of Aggression was published calling “upon the international community to ensure the prosecution of crimes of aggression”. The Declaration further calls upon “upon States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to amend the jurisdictional provisions governing the crime of aggression to align them with those applicable to the other crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court”.

The 2023 Nuremberg Academy Lecture on “The Ukraine War and the Crime of Aggression” was delivered by Professor Dr Dres h.c. Claus Kreß, the Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the ICC for the Crime of Aggression. The lecture focused on the necessity to end impunity for the crime of aggression for Heads of States. Professor Kreß highlighted that the crime of aggression is not to be seen as some special crime necessitating particular jurisdictional requirements. The lecture was followed by an interaction with Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, Katja Keul who emphasized Germany´s support for the amendment of the Rome Statute.

On 20 February 2024, the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) in cooperation with the Nuremberg Academy conducted a unique and special field hearing at the historic Courtroom 600 on 20 February 2024. The hearing engaged with leading experts and assessed the gaps in the international institutional architecture in relation to furthering accountability for the crime of aggression. During the hearings, Andriy Kostin, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine stressed that justice must extend to the “the masterminds who set in motion the machinery of 

The Nuremberg Academy continues to work with multiple stakeholders to support efforts furthering accountability for the crime of aggression. In particular, we remain involved in initiatives aimed at amending the Rome Statute in order to further empower the ICC to prosecute the “supreme international crime”. (km)