Swiss initiative: intentional starvation of civilians in civil wars is now a war crime

Bern, 06.12.2019 - Following a Swiss initiative, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will from now on be able to prosecute the intentional starvation of civilians in civil wars as a war crime. The ICC Assembly of States Parties took a unanimous decision to this effect earlier today. It strengthens the protection of victims of war.

The majority of the over 800 million people who suffer from hunger every day live in conflict zones. The intentional starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a major problem in civil wars. The fact that the ICC will now be able to prosecute such acts as a war crime will help to prevent this crime and bring justice to victims.

Switzerland is actively engaged in the fight against impunity. In keeping with its humanitarian tradition, it is working to ensure that civilians in conflict zones are spared. As the depositary state of the Geneva Conventions and in light of its neutrality and Geneva's key role in humanitarian work, Switzerland plays a pivotal role in international efforts.

The ICC is a permanent court with 122 States Parties. The Assembly of States Parties met this week for its annual session in The Hague (the Netherlands), where the ICC has its seat. The ICC is responsible for prosecuting individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. The ICC can only assume jurisdiction when a state is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.

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