Bern, Press releases, 19.02.2014

The Federal Council wants to improve compliance with the prohibition of the use of force under international law and further stem the commission of war crimes. Earlier today, it adopted the dispatch to Parliament on amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of aggression and war crimes. The amendments must be approved by the Federal Assembly before the Federal Council can ratify them.

On the occasion of a Review Conference held in June 2010, two significant elements were added to the Rome Statute.  The first will allow the International Criminal Court to exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  This means that high-ranking individuals will be held responsible for orchestrating an act of aggression which constitutes a manifest violation of the prohibition on the use of force in the Charter of the United Nations.

The second would extend the scope of the offences considered war crimes.  The use of poison or poisoned weapons, gas and similar substances and devices, as well as dum-dum bullets, will become an offence not only in an international armed conflict, but also in a non-international armed conflict.

The punishment of these crimes is an important contribution to the peaceful coexistence of peoples, promoting the respect of human rights and the alleviation of need and poverty in the world, all of which are enshrined in the Constitution as core objectives of Swiss foreign policy. For this reason Switzerland has advocated bringing these crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction.

For the amendments to the Rome Statute to be able to enter into force for Switzerland, they must be approved by the Federal Assembly and ratified by the Federal Council.  Ratification does not entail any amendment of Swiss criminal law.

The ICC is a permanent institution based in The Hague in the Netherlands and is responsible for punishing the most serious crimes under international law (currently genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, to include aggression in future).  The ICC was established by the Rome Statute, which has so far been ratified by 122 states including Switzerland.    Switzerland has always shown a strong commitment to the ICC and currently provides a vice-president to the ICC's Assembly of States Parties.

Further information:

Overview of amendments to the Rome Statute
International criminal jurisdiction
International Criminal Court (EN/FR)
ABC of International Humanitarian Law

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