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Kreß & Barriga’s The Crime of Aggression: A Commentary

In a singular contribution to the theory and practice of international criminal law, Claus Kreß and Stefan Barriga have edited a massive, two volume, 1488 page, 53 chapter commentary on the crime of aggression under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. With all the recent controversy surrounding the ICC, it is worth remembering that the Court remains the focal point for the progressive development of international criminal law. Its successes as well as its failures deserve close study.

The project of defining the crime of aggression has implications beyond the Court itself. Since the crime of aggression involves the unlawful use of force between States, the definition of the crime reaffirms the contemporary jus ad bellum regime and, in particular, the enduring primacy of the UN Charter.

Kreß and Barriga have brought together leading theorists, lawyers, diplomats, and advocates to examine every aspect of the crime of aggression, from the definition of the offense to its jurisdictional constraints, from its drafting history to its domestic implementation, and from its relationship with the UN Charter to its relationship with just war theory. 

I’m particularly looking forward to reading the chapters by Dapo Akande, Roger Clark, James Crawford, William Schabas, David Scheffer, Kirsten Sellars, and Just Security’s own Harold Koh. I’m also pleased to see a number of contributions by theorists, including Martti Koskenniemi, Larry May, Jeff McMahan, Frédéric Mégret, and Jens Ohlin. 

From the publisher:

The 2010 Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute empowered the International Criminal Court to prosecute the ‘supreme crime’ under international law: the crime of aggression. This landmark commentary provides the first analysis of the history, theory, legal interpretation and future of the crime of aggression. As well as explaining the positions of the main actors in the negotiations, the authoritative team of leading scholars and practitioners set out exactly how countries have themselves criminalized illegal war-making in domestic law and practice. In light of the anticipated activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over this crime in 2017, this work offers, over two volumes, a comprehensive legal analysis of how to understand the material and mental elements of the crime of aggression as defined at Kampala. Alongside The Travaux Préparatoires of the Crime of Aggression (Cambridge, 2011), this commentary provides the definitive resource for anyone concerned with the illegal use of force.

No international law library will be complete without these two volumes, and those of us who follow these issues will be learning from them for years to come.

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About the Author

is Professor of Law and Judge Jon O. Newman Scholar at Rutgers Law School.  His first book, Law and Morality at War, was recently published by Oxford University Press in January. You can follow him on Twitter (@AdHaque110).