The United States of America and the crime of aggression

PhD thesis


Pecorella, G. 2014. The United States of America and the crime of aggression. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Law
TypePhD thesis
TitleThe United States of America and the crime of aggression
AuthorsPecorella, G.
Abstract

This study traces back the US position on aggression from the Declaration of Independence (1776) to the Kampala Review Conference (2010) to see if and to what extent it has evolved over time. At the 2010 Kampala Review Conference States Parties to the Rome Statute adopted a definition of the crime of aggression whose main features pertain to the ius ad bellum. In this respect, although it is not a Party to the Statute, the US is fundamental because of its permanent seat at the UN Security Council and its current prominent military role. Notably, this study fills a critical gap in literature as no similar work has been published yet. Moreover, it might be useful for professionals in both the academic and the diplomatic field. It is mostly based on primary sources, including: statements at international conferences, treaties, diplomatic documents, interventions before international tribunals (either as defendant or as prosecuting State), and both national legislations and case law. The thesis is structured as follows. The first chapter deals with a time (1776-1917) when the US did not even consider any criminalisation of aggression. Still, this period provided for some important precedents for the ius ad bellum. The second chapter covers a time which goes from 1918 to 1944, when the US opposed the idea of a crime of aggression, but had a leading role in the promotion of the relevant treaties concluded in between the two world wars. The third chapter focuses on a brief, but still intense period (i.e. 1945-1952) in which the US supported the idea of the individual criminal responsibility linked to aggression. The fourth chapter concerns a time covering five decades during which the US claimed that it was impossible to define aggression. The 2010 Kampala Conference, to which the US participated as an active observer, is the natural end for this study. The fifth chapter is then mostly dedicated to this event. In conclusion, the research shows that the current US legal position has some significant weaknesses, especially if one considers its inconsistencies with the relevant historical precedents.

Department nameSchool of Law
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print20 Mar 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited20 Mar 2015
Accepted23 Oct 2014
Output statusPublished
LanguageEnglish
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