The Crime of Aggression before the House of Lords
AbstractIn the days preceding the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition forces, groups of individuals committed acts of civil disobedience in British military bases to hinder what they thought were unlawful preparations for an aggressive war. In R v. Jones et al., the House of Lords examined the question of whether individuals can rely upon the alleged prevention of crimes against peace to justify otherwise unlawful actions under English law. The Lords ruled that the crime of aggression is a crime under customary international law, yet not under English law. This followed from the principle that customary crimes cannot be incorporated into the English legal system without statutory enactment. As a result, the appellants could not invoke the ‘Nuremberg defence’ to elude responsibility incurred under domestic legislation.