Reference : Η έννοια της επίθεσης στο Διεθνές Δίκαιο
Books : Book published as author, translator, etc.
Law, criminology & political science : European & international law
Η έννοια της επίθεσης στο Διεθνές Δίκαιο
[en] The notion of aggression in International Law
Pichou, Maria mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
Sakkoulas Publications
International Studies;3
[en] aggression ; aggressive war ; international criminal court
[en] The commission of aggressive wars is now forbidden by both customary and
conventional International Law. Additionally, aggression itself constitutes a crime
under International Criminal Law. After the Second World War, aggression was
universally condemned as the most serious international crime, nonetheless, its
definition as a crime was only achieved in June 2010 at the Review Conference
of the International Criminal Court. In the preamble of UN Charter, the ‘saving
of succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ is set as the cornerstone of
the UN’s foundation, however, until 2010, the international community had not
achieved (nor had it demonstrated the will to agree on) a legally binding definition
of aggression. The research for this dissertation was undertaken as a response
to this peculiar finding.
This thesis presents the evolution of the definition of aggression through the
processes undertaken at the international level (both from the standpoint of state
responsibility and of individual criminal responsibility) rather than examining the
jus ad bellum, i.e. the requirements for the lawful use of armed force by states. In
order to follow the distinction of the definition based on the criterion of liability,
the thesis is divided into two main parts. The first part discusses the evolution of
the concept of aggression in the context of state responsibility, culminating with
the adoption of Resolution 3314 (XXIX) / 12.14.1974 of the General Assembly
on the Definition of Aggression. The second part deals with aggression as a
crime which carries individual criminal responsibility. It begins at Nuremberg
and ends with an analysis of the definitional procedures and of the definition of
aggression that was adopted in framework of the International Criminal Court.
The analysis of these elements was performed with a combined methodology.
A qualitative research method was employed in order to examine the content
of different sources. Scarce case-studies were examined for the illustration of
the historical events that took place mainly during the early attempts of the international
community to denounce war. Additionally, a quantitative research
method was used to determine the intent of the international community to define
aggression (e.g., how many states voted in favor or against in every definitional
procedure) and finally, the utilization of a narrative analysis when referring to
historical events.
Though the prohibition of aggression represents one of the most important
rules of International Law, its application has not yet been fully embedded into
the practice of states since they continue to commit aggressive acts, often defining
their actions under different legal terms such as ‘self defense.’ Therefore,
rather than actually deterring war, the legal rule of the prohibition of aggression
has simply contributed to the renunciation of the term as demonstrated by the fact
that very seldom do states now declare war officially. As stated eloquently by
Benjamin Ferencz, ‘(…) it is seemingly easier to evoke aggression than to dispel
it, and easier to commit aggression than to define it (…)’.
The thesis concludes that the definition of aggression can and should be implemented
as long as the different nature of the international organs that respond to
aggression (specifically, the Security Council and the International Criminal Court)
is understood. By itself, the prosecution of the crime of aggression by the International
Criminal Court will not prevent the commission of wars or other serious international
crimes. Nonetheless, in this process that began early last century, the
application of the definition of aggression and the prosecution of the crime will still
represent a significant accomplishment in humanity’s attempts to prevent and outlaw
ΙΚΥ - State Scholarship Foundation Award
Review of my book available in French, published in the Revue Hellenique de Droit International (vol. 2, 2015)

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