Aggression, Legitimacy and the International Criminal Court

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The late Thomas Franck postulated that the legitimacy of international norms and institutions rested in large part upon certain important factors, notably whether the norm or institutional process was validated through commonly accepted means, whether it was clearly understood by those upon whom it operated, whether it cohered with other norms and institutions, and whether it was well-grounded in secondary rules of international law concerning law formation. This article argues that the proposed draft amendment to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression does not fare well under these criteria, casting into doubt the long-term prospects for the legitimacy of the definition of the crime and of the institutional structures charged with administering it. Choices made at the ICC Review Conference in 2010 to finalize an amendment to the Rome Statute may help alleviate or aggravate these concerns.

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