On the 9 November 2019, the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) held its 11th Legal Symposium at the Humanity House in The Hague. The speakers were: Dov Jacobs, speaking about the crime of aggression, Judge Schmitt presenting on international criminal procedure, Iain Edwards presenting on terrorism, and Maud Sarliève speaking on ecocide.
The meeting was well attended and each presentation gave rise to an animated and fruitful discussion on each topic, and more generally on the linguistic challenges of practicing in international institutions such as the international criminal court.
During his presentation, Dov Jacobs argued that the drafters had made the definition unduly complex, alleging legal obstacles to in fact hide political compromises. He explained what the amendments of the Rome Statute relating to the crime of aggression meant for the International Criminal Court's capacity to exercise jurisdiction over the crime, went through the different elements of the crime as defined in the Rome Statute, both in relation to the act of aggression by a State and individual criminal responsibility.
He also pointed to some of the specific difficulties with the adopted definition. For example, there is some difficulty in determining what would constitute a "manifest" violation of the UN Charter and he took the delicate issue of humanitarian interventions as a case study. He also noted the ambiguities that might arise from having modes of liabilities, both in article 8bis and article 25.
During his presentation, Dov Jacobs took the opportunity to recognise the crucial importance of interpreters in the good functioning of the International Criminal Court. He noted that: "Hearings are the beating heart of the criminal law process, and, the words that are spoken are what keeps this heart beating. given the linguistic diversity at the ICC in so many cases, without interpreters, the heart will simply just stop".