National Criminal Law and the Statute of the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court has become a fundamental challenge for activists in international human rights law and international humanitarian law and a favorite theme for lawyers in general and criminal lawyers in particular.

This interest for the Court is justified by an international context characterized by the frequency of violations of these rights.

Although seen as a mechanism of repression of serious violations of international humanitarian law and of the fight against impunity, the debate on the ICC should not overshadow the risk of "politicization" of its action, which some countries accuse of selectivity.

If the ratification or accession to the Rome Statute are in themselves a major challenge, several states are still reluctant to take that step. This reluctance is often due to constitutional, legal or political considerations. Based on this observation, the adaptation of national legislation with the provisions of the ICC Statute is a crucial step to ensure complementarity between the ICC and national courts. It is clear from the provisions of the preamble and of Articles 1 and 17 of the Rome Statute that failure of adaptation may result in situations of overriding of national jurisdiction, as is the case of Darfur and Libya.

Also, the issue of adaptation of national legislation with the provisions of the Statute of the International Criminal Court should be treated independently of the decision of ratification or accession to the Rome Statute. In fact, the adaptation of legislation will ensure the ICC complementarity with national courts. This applies to all countries regardless of their treaty status under the Rome Statute.

Based on these elements, the provisions to be adapted are both procedural and substantive.

The Procedural Provisions

These provisions relate to individual criminal responsibility, the provisions relating to assistance to crimes under international humanitarian law and provisions of grace and prescription, keeping in mind that these provisions stem from a special regime which derogates from common law.

The Substantive Provisions

These provisions relate to crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The thematic forum will discuss different scenarios for adapting the national criminal legislation to the Rome Statute, namely:

• The inclusion of appropriate provisions in the Criminal Code;

• The enactment of legislation designed by a specific law for the sake of legal consistency.

The issue of arbitration between these options will also be discussed.

The thematic forum will also discuss comparative laws namely Arab and European laws. Particular attention will be given to the typical Arab bill of adaptation of national criminal legislation with international humanitarian law.

These are the main issues around which revolve the forum’s work.

Participants in the forum include:

• Councillor Mohammed Amin Mehdi, former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, former Minister of the Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (Egypt)

• General-Dr Mohannad Hijazi, Director of Military Justice of the Kingdom of Jordan and a member of the International Commission of International Humanitarian Law.

• Dr. Cherif Atlam, President of the Court of Appeal and honorary expert in international humanitarian law with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

• And Professor Mohammed Abdennabaoui, Director of Public Affairs and Grace. (Morocco)