Crimes Against Humanity News

Increasing Momentum in 2023 on a New Crimes Against Humanity Treaty

2023 saw momentum build in favor of the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity. Amidst global challenges, states are rallying around the cause of preventing and punishing crimes against humanity and protecting and enhancing human dignity. Spring and fall saw progress on substantive elements of the treaty through discussion among State representatives in March, April, and October.

In March 2023 State delegates met at the German Mission to the United Nations, cosponsored by France, seeking to narrow their differences on the Draft Articles. Together with civil society colleagues, the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative directed by Professor Leila Sadat brought together experts to engage in discussion of the Draft Articles with State delegates. Students from Washington University Law School and Yale University as official notetakers. The final report from the meeting, prepared by Professor Leila Sadat as Rapporteur, can be found here.  

States subsequently met in the resumed session of the Sixth Committee in April, discussed in greater detail here, which was a whirlwind of productive interventions by States. While not all interventions were positive, the high degree of support for the treaty and the lively discourse, veering occasionally into philosophy and humor, lessened tensions on the treaty’s potential development and brought substantive reflection and critique to the forefront. At the conclusion of this positive meeting, the co-facilitator of Resolution 77/249 from The Gambia, Amadou Jaiteh, remarked positively that “differences are getting narrower and narrower.”

October saw further movement on this treaty in the UN 6th Committee. There, the treaty saw an unprecedented show of support among the state parties with a record 108 states, or 86% of participants, supporting the treaty, as shown in our 2023 Tabulation State Positions. Students Honey Oliver (Yale) and Markus Baldermann attended the meetings on behalf of the Initiative, along with Professor Leila Sadat.  The October meeting again saw support for the treaty grow among States. Highlighting the historical importance of this progressive development of international law, in the words of Haiti’s Delegation, “the struggle against crimes against humanity [is] equally a struggle for memory, for truth, and for justice.” This meeting is discussed in more detail here. Thirty States submitted comments to the United Nations on the Draft Articles, and in 2024, Germany will host another meeting prior to the April Resumed Session of the U.N. Sixth Committee.