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Three new war crimes recognized by International Criminal Court (ICC)

Published: December 28, 2017
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On Thursday 14 December, in New York, the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) added three new war crimes to the Rome Statute: the use of biological and toxin weapons; the use of weapons causing injuries by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays; and the use of laser weapons causing permanent blindness.

On Thursday 14 December, in New York, the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) added three new war crimes to the Rome Statute. Belgium had proposed these amendments to the Statute, which is the founding treaty of the ICC, as early as 2009.

The new war crimes added to the Rome Statute are:

  • the use of biological and toxin weapons
  • the use of weapons causing injuries by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays
  • the use of laser weapons causing permanent blindness.

Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that these weapons kill without discrimination or inflict very severe suffering. The fact that the use of these weapons has been elevated to the level of war crimes strengthens international law, and would make the use of these weapons during armed conflicts more difficult. “The inscription of these new crimes in the Statute of Rome ensures also legal certainty to the victims and gives a specific recognition to their pain,” Belgium says.

Belgium notes that in the course of the long negotiations leading to this diplomatic success, Belgium always privileged dialogue and transparency in order to foster consensus. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said he was “proud that Belgium was able to bring this difficult project to a good end.” He noted that criminalizing the use of these weapons is based on values which are at the heart of the priorities of Belgian diplomacy.

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