The crime of aggression: Useless, anachronistic - and beautiful

Date & time
12–1pm Wednesday 13 February 2019

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law
5 Fellows Rd

Professor Kevin Heller


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Research office
ANU College of Law Research Seminar
Kevin Heller

This presentation will argue that the ICC’s newly-adopted crime of aggression is useless, anachronistic, and yet beautiful. The crime is useless because the jurisdictional regime adopted by the Assembly of States Parties ensures that the Court will never prosecute anyone for aggression. The crime is anachronistic because, since the Vietnam War, the international community has largely shifted its attention from preventing aggression to limiting atrocity. But the activation of the crime is also beautiful, because it culminates seven decades of legal activism and reflects the international community’s most utopian longing – for a world free from the scourge of war. For all its uselessness and anachronism, therefore, the crime serves as an important reminder of how desiccated the international community’s response to war has become.

A light lunch will be served.



  • Professor Kevin Heller »

    Professor Heller holds academic appointments at the University of Amsterdam and the ANU College of Law. He has extensive experience in International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. He was involved in the International Criminal Court’s negotiations over the crime of aggression, worked as Human Rights Watch’s external legal advisor on the trial of Saddam Hussein, served for three years as one of Radovan Karadzic’s formally-appointed legal associates at the ICTY, and was the plaintiff’s expert witness concerning medical experimentation in Salim v Mitchell (a successful Alien Tort Statute case against the psychologists who designed and administered the CIA’s torture program). Prof. Heller consults regularly with a variety of UN organisations (such as UNAMA) and human rights groups (including Human Rights First) and is a permanent member of the international law blog Opinio Juris.

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