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Nature of aggression and the law

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Definition of aggression.
  3. Nuremberg charter and the leadership requirement.
  4. Resolution 3314.
  5. Jurisdiction.
  6. Conclusion.

The nature of aggression has always been troublesome to settle as a legal concept, especially as it is ?intertwined with political elements? . The concept of aggression as a criminal offence was fuelled by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in the wake of the Second World War, where the Allied Powers were determined to prevent a repeat of the atrocities and assert a unified check on tyranny .
Despite the intentions of Nuremberg, the legal concept of ?aggression? as a criminal offence and the ambiguity of its parameters have ignited debate regarding effectiveness and enforceability in practice . Justification for aggression centres on the extreme gravity, international repercussions and accountability however its weakness is rooted in the difficulty of clarifying a sufficiently precise and acceptable definition .

[...] See full statute at www.un.org/icc See United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 of 1974 (XXIX) at www.un.org Charter of the International Military Tribunal 8 August 1945 www.un.org/aboutun/charter The International Law Commission's (ILC) Draft Articles on State Responsibility (1996) at www.untreaty.un.org/ilc UN Security Council Documents www.un.org/documents Buhm-Suk Baek, Definition and Jurisdiction of the Crime of Aggression and the International Criminal Court? at http://lsr.nellco.org/cornell/lps/papers/19 Justice Robert M Jackson opened the trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945. In Jackson's view, it was time to ?make war less attractive to those who held the destiny of peoples in their power? and this formed a foundation for the basis of the crime of aggression as an attempt to protect people from domestic tyranny. [...]


[...] The Lords asserted that the crime of aggression under international law was not a crime under domestic law and that the Lords could not advise on the legality of the war. Lord Bingham further added that it was not the judges to decided what conduct should be treated as lying so far outside the bounds of what is acceptable in our society as to attract criminal penalties?[17]. This begs the question as to how can a crime in international law bring those to account for aggression when domestic law claims it has no jurisdiction. [...]


[...] The focus of this analysis aims to provide a clearer understanding of the nature of aggression as a crime, evaluate the debate on aggression and consider the future of the offence as an effective tool to carry out its intended purpose. DEFINITION OF AGGRESSION In general terms the crime of aggression is the attribution of criminal responsibility to an individual for an act of aggression, which is committed by a state[7]. In order to properly define the crime of aggression, it is essential to define the act of aggression, which is one of the elements of this crime. [...]

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