The complex crime of aggression under the rome statute

David J Scheffer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Four discrete issues demonstrate how complex the crime of aggression under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will be following the amendments approved in Kampala in June 2010. First, the absence of an explicit magnitude, or gravity, requirement for determining an act of aggression ignores the reality of how matters are referred to the ICC as well as how one first determines the existence of aggression. The gravity test of a crime of aggression is insufficient and misleading in arriving at a methodology for a logical determination of both acts and crimes of aggression. An agreed understanding in Kampala to resolve the dilemma is fraught with contradictions. Second, the amendments fail to address how the ICC should respond to a Security Council determination that an act of aggression has not occurred. Third, the lingering debate over how the Rome Statute should have been amended to activate the crime of aggression will burden the Assembly of States Parties, which should focus on arriving at a united interpretation of the procedures used to approve the Kampala amendments. Fourth, given the many permutations of how states will fall within or outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court regarding the crime of aggression, the resulting patchy landscape of coverage should surprise no one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-904
Number of pages8
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • International Criminal Court
  • UN Security Council
  • aggression
  • atrocity crimes
  • equality of nations
  • gravity
  • international criminal law
  • magnitude
  • temporal jurisdiction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law

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