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Crimes Against Humanity Convention

The Asia Justice Coalition (AJC) has been closely following and monitoring the passage of the International Law Commission’s (ILC) Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity (Draft Articles) through the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly.


The Draft Articles provide an additional tool to fight impunity, bridging the normative gap in treaty law by providing for prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity (CAH). The Draft Articles encompass state responsibility, strengthen inter-state cooperation, enable States to develop national capacity to investigate and punish crimes against humanity within their territory, and center victims and survivors. The AJC secretariat believes that the ILC Draft Articles provide a sound basis to elaborate a future multilateral convention on crimes against humanity. Such an elaboration would align with the objectives and goals of the UN Charter – maintenance of international peace and security.


In furtherance of the same goal, the Asia Justice Coalition has undertaken the following research and advocacy initiatives:


The Asia Justice Coalition attended the Resumed Session of the Sixth Committee on CAH in New York.

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The AJC and its members along with 300+ civil society organisations and experts signed a joint statement to express their support for a global convention on crimes against humanity. They urged States to use the second resumed session of the Sixth Committee (1 – 5 April 2024 and 11 April 2024) to move the Draft Articles to negotiations towards a crimes against humanity treaty at the 79th session of the UN General Assembly.

The Asia Justice Coalition secretariat head, Dr. Priya Pillai participated in two Expert Meetings on the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity in New York in 2023 and 2024 respectively, briefing Sixth committee legal advisors of UN Member States on aspects of the Draft Articles.

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Dr Priya Pillai also moderated a session on Articles 6-10, entitled “National Measures: Criminalization; Jurisdiction; aut dedere aut judicare” in the two-day webinar by Amnesty International on the Draft Crimes against Humanity Convention, convening representatives from governments, academia and civil society from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. 

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To spread awareness amongst the civil society members, secretariat head Dr Priya Pillai and Aakash Chandran (Legal Advocacy and Communications Manager) briefed members of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICR2P) on the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity and the process at the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee.

The engagement of Asian States with international justice mechanisms has been minimal, exemplified by relatively few States - only 19 – that have become party to the Rome Statute. Similarly, no regional human rights treaty or Asian-wide court exists to further international justice. To explore the relevance of the potential crimes against humanity Convention for the Asia-Pacific region, the Asia Justice Coalition and International Commission of Jurists co-organised a webinar to highlight the value and contribution of Global South, in particular, Asia to promote and ensure peace and stability. Check below.

The AJC secretariat also mapped the position of the Asian States and published a briefing paper explaining the movement on the International Law Commission's Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity at the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee. It also called on them to support the passage of the Draft Articles out of the Sixth Committee and convening a diplomatic conference.

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Similarly, the secretariat also mapped Asian States’ position on the Draft Articles based on the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) records and called for active participation of Asian and African States at the UNGA Sixth Committee. Check here.

At the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue for Human Rights 75, Legal Advocacy and Communications Manager Aakash Chandran further called on States to pass the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity at the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee.

To inform relevant Geneva-based actors about the future Crimes Against Humanity Convention and to call on States to support its adoption, the Asia Justice Coalition and its members International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Global Justice Center co-sponsored a side event at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2023 entitled ‘Towards A Crimes Against Humanity Convention’. 

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In March 2024, during the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Asia Justice Coalition once again co-sponsored a side event Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity: Advancing Towards a New Convention”  to discuss the opportunities that a new convention offers in advancing the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.

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Building on the complementarity between the Draft Articles on CAH and the Ljubljana– The Hague convention on Mutual Legal Assistance, Dr. Priya Pillai highlighted the central role of victims in international accountability frameworks at the IBA Annual Conference in Paris in November 2023.

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The Asia Justice Coalition co-sponsored a civil society workshop in parallel to the 22nd session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court in New York entitled ‘Workshop on the International Law Commission’s 2019 Draft articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity’. The aim of the workshop was to provide members of civil society attending the Assembly of States Parties with an overview of the draft articles and the ongoing process and provide a forum to contextualize progress, hurdles, and opportunities, and create a broad constituency pushing for the adoption of a robust treaty to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.

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During the margins of the 22nd ASP, in December 2023, Asia Justice Coalition also co-sponsored a side event ‘Advancing Towards a Crimes Against Humanity Convention’ exploring the ongoing efforts to establish a new treaty on crimes against humanity and filing the accountability gap in international law.

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