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Date : October 12, 2022
Q&A: Towards a Crimes Against Humanity Treaty
   https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/06/qa-towards-crimes-against-humanity… [903]

While crimes against humanity have proliferated around the world, there is currently no specific and comprehensive international treaty on these egregious offenses. This is a significant gap in international law. In 2019, the International Law Commission (ILC), an expert UN body mandated to advance the development of international law, completed a set of proposed draft articles on crimes against humanity, titled the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity (“Draft Articles”), to address this shortcoming.

These Draft Articles provide the starting point for negotiations for an eventual treaty.  For the past three years, consideration of and action on the Articles has been stalled in the UN General Assembly’s 6th Committee, which considers legal questions for the General Assembly. At the same time, crimes against humanity continue to be committed in numerous states around the world. This year, in a departure from the Committee’s usual methods of work, eight states have taken the timely initiative to introduce a draft resolution that seeks to create an ad hoc committee for substantive discussion of the draft articles in 2023 and report to the 78th General Assembly for a decision on next steps a year from now.  

Given that this issue will be prominent in this year’s session of the 6th Committee, Human Rights Watch has prepared a question-and-answer document to provide a brief overview of the importance of advancing the draft crimes against humanity treaty to initial substantive discussions as a crucial step in creating a binding international crimes against humanity treaty.   


1. What are crimes against humanity?

2. Why is an international treaty on crimes against humanity needed?

3. How would a crimes against humanity complement the provisions of the Rome Statute?

4. What are the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity?

5. Why have the Draft Articles stalled in the 6th Committee?

6. What is needed to move the Draft Articles forward this year?

7. What should governments to do?

[Source: HRW]

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