U.N. International Law Commission Completes Second Reading 

of Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity

Building on the work of the Harris Institute's Crimes 
Against Humanity Initiative, a new global treaty on the 
prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity 
is gaining momentum.  In summer 2017, the International 
Law Commission (ILC) completed Draft Articles for a global 
convention for crimes against humanity and requested 
comments from governments, international organizations, 
and others.

The Commission received a large number of comments 
on the Draft Articles, with 39 States, seven international 
organizations, and approximately 700 NGOs and individuals 
submitting observations. 

Comments were generally positive, noting the significance of 
the proposed treaty and expressing pleasure that it would not 
conflict with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal 
Court. The Steering Committee of Washington University's 
Crimes Against Humanity Initiative submitted comments in 
November 2018. 

The ILC began a second reading of the Draft Articles in May 
2019 with a review of Special Rapporteur Sean Murphy's 

Fourth Report. Following a week of comments from 
Members of the Commission, the ILC voted unanimously 
to send the Draft Articles to the Drafting Committee.  The 
Commission adopted a complete set of Draft Articles and 
Commentary at the end of summer 2019.  The new treaty 
could be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 
or at a Diplomatic Conference as early as 2020.

Crimes Against Humanity Initiative

The International Bar Association War Crimes Committee Hosts 

a Panel on Crimes Against Humanity at the Palais des Nations

On May 3, 2019, the War Crimes Committee of the 
International Bar Association hosted a Discussion on the 
Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity
 at the Palais des 
Nations, home of the United Nations Office in Geneva. 
Co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Principality of 
Liechtenstein and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom 
of the Netherlands, the event was well attended. The 
panel reflected on the ILC process and offered constructive 
comments on the Draft Articles ahead of the ILC Drafting 
Committee's work on the articles.

From left: Mr. Vincent de Graaf, Ms. Shannon Raj Singh, 

Ms. Federica D'Alessandra, Prof. Leila Nadya Sadat, 

Mr. Hugo Relva, and Judge Robert Roth 

Harris Institute Fellow Madaline George (JD '14)  at the United Nations 

Office in Geneva