Archishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations Archishop Gabriele Caccia, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations 

Holy See: Strengthened measures against crimes against humanity required

The Holy See's Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, calls for more effective international measures to combat crimes against humanity, emphasising the importance of human dignity and prevention efforts.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing the Sixth Committee, Resumed Session of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, reiterated the urgent need for strong action against crimes against humanity.

The Permanent Observer highlighted the longstanding recognition of crimes against humanity as international crimes within customary international law.

Archbishop Caccia emphasised that "the International Law Commission (ILC) has rightly said that the prohibition of these crimes is indeed a peremptory norm of international law."

International cooperation to prevent and punish

He further highlighted the necessity of a "universal, multilateral, legally binding instrument, codifying the existing customary law in this area," which he says would promote international cooperation in the prevention and punishment of these "heinous acts."

In his address, Archbishop Caccia recalled the words of Pope Francis, stating, "the dignity of others is to be respected in all circumstances."

He emphasised the essential role of human dignity, the foundation of all human rights, in addressing crimes against humanity.

Strengthening Efficacy

Turning then to the draft instrument, Archbishop Caccia proposed amendments to strengthen its efficacy.

"While the dual purpose of the new instrument is to prevent and punish crimes against humanity, the draft does not contain an explicit reference to the former aim" he noted, before suggesting incorporating a reference to human dignity in preambular paragraph nine. Such an addition, he said, would provide a more robust interpretative framework for the Draft Articles.

Furthermore, he advocated for explicit acknowledgment of the imperative of prevention in the preamble. "Since the prohibition of crimes against humanity is a peremptory norm, the definition of these acts must also be deeply rooted in customary international law. Therefore, in defining these crimes against humanity, the text should not depart from existing customary norms," stressed Archbishop Caccia. 

Bringing his statement to a close, the Permanent Observer stressed that Sovereign interests can never justify crimes against humanity," and welcomed the inclusion of ius cogens in the fourth preambular paragraph of the Draft Articles, emphasising the significance of this reference.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

02 April 2024, 10:30