Rome Statute on Cultural Heritage

On October 3, 2023, the RA National Assembly adopted the draft law for the ratification of the Rome Statute with a vote of 60 in favor and 22 against ( Armenia signed the Rome Statute back in 1999. Currently, there are about 137 states that have signed it, and 123 states are members (

The Rome Statute was adopted by the Diplomatic Conference of UN Plenipotentiaries on July 17, 1998, and it came into force on July 1, 2002 (

According to the International Criminal Court, intentionally destroying or damaging cultural heritage is also regarded as a particularly severe form of using force. Articles 8(2)(b)(ix) and 8(2)(e)(iv) of the statute directly apply to attacks on cultural heritage that are not military objectives. The destruction or confiscation of cultural heritage, appropriation of it, looting, and other crimes related to cultural heritage are considered war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 8(2)(b)(ix), Article 8(2)(e)(iv)).The targeting and destruction of cultural property in situations of armed conflict (including occupation) is deemed an act of aggression under Article 8(d) of the International Criminal Court. An act of aggression' encompasses actions such as invasion, attack, occupation, annexation, bombing, and so forth. The Court's criminal jurisdiction extends to acts of destruction of cultural property committed by either a State or a private individual as part of a plan, policy, or large-scale crime.

The destruction of cultural heritage can be considered genocide because it results in the creation of conditions conducive to the physical destruction of a group under Article 6(c) of the International Criminal Court. This is because any living conditions designed to physically harm a group are closely tied to the cultural heritage of the targeted group. The destruction of cultural heritage can inflict significant psychological harm on individuals, thereby intensifying the gravity and severity of genocidal acts as outlined in Article 6(b) of the Rome Statute. As per Article 6(e) of the Statute, the "forcible transfer of the children of a group to another group" is classified as genocide when it is carried out with the intention of partially or completely destroying the group based on national, ethnic, racial, or religious grounds (Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9, Article 6(e)).

Article 7(1)(d) of the Rome Statute outlines international prohibitions on forcible transfer. It states that "Deportation or forcible transfer of a population when it is committed as part of a widespread or coordinated attack, directed against any civilian population, and the perpetrator is aware of his actions" is considered a crime against humanity (Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July 1998, Article 7(1)(d)).

Compulsion measures may encompass both physical force and the threat of violence (ICC Elements of Crimes, Article 7(1)(d)). The term "forcible" in this context is not confined to physical force alone; it may encompass the threat of force or coercion, including the fear of violence, coercion, detention, psychological pressure, or abuse of power. It describes a situation in which individuals do not have a free choice to remain in their territory.