Crimes Against Humanity Draft Advocacy Letter

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Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs

Re: Take an Express Position in Support of Negotiations of a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity 

Dear Ministers, 

We, the undersigned [ORGANIZATION], are writing to urge the [STATE] government to take a clear public position of support for moving the Draft Articles on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity (“Draft Articles”) to formal treaty negotiations. African states have a particularly important role to play at this juncture as the continent includes the largest number of states that have yet to take an express position on the issue.

The Draft Articles are currently under the consideration of the United Nations’ Sixth Committee (“Sixth Committee”). The Sixth Committee will meet on the Draft Articles on October 10, 2024 on taking a decision on whether to initiate formal treaty negotiations to elaborate a treaty based on the Draft Articles. Unlike for similar crimes such as genocide and war crimes, there is currently no standalone treaty obligating states to prevent and punish crimes against humanity. A crimes against humanity treaty will help fill this gap. The Draft Articles would expressly delineate states’ obligations to prevent and punish crimes against humanity and clarify the means to cooperate with each other. 

A majority of states have already indicated their support for treaty negotiations for a Crimes Against Humanity Treaty. However, given that the Sixth Committee customarily operates on the basis of consensus, the greatest support possible will be important to ensure a decision to move ahead. 

Further, as you consider the Draft Articles, we request that you approach the development of a new treaty on crimes against humanity in a gender-competent and survivor-centric way. While the Draft Articles currently draw heavily from the ICC’s Rome Statute, there has been significant progress in understanding of sexual and gender-based crimes and of the harms of crimes against humanity on survivors. A new international treaty on crimes against humanity should reflect this progress, and we urge [STATE] to incorporate it in future discussions on the Draft Articles and in formal treaty negotiations. 

Sierra Leone and South Africa have shown leadership in their support for proposals to strengthen the treaty in comprising gendered harms.

More than 450 civil society organizations and individuals have come together from around the world to call for states to support treaty negotiations for a crimes against humanity. We hope you will heed their call.

We would be happy to discuss this matter with you further, and can be reached at [CONTACT INFORMATION].