Remarks at Meeting of the Sixth Committee on Agenda Item 83: Crimes against Humanity

Mark Simonoff
Legal Adviser
United States Mission to the U.N.
New York, New York
October 11, 2023


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States aligns itself with the statement delivered by the representative of The Gambia on behalf of a broad cross-regional group and makes this further additional statement.

The United States has a long history of supporting accountability for those responsible for crimes against humanity, dating back to the instrumental role the United States played in the first prosecution of such crimes before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. However, more than 75 years after the Nuremberg trials, there is no general multilateral convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, crimes against humanity have continued to be committed around the world – all too often with impunity.

The United States views the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity as an important step in this regard. We express our deep appreciation to the Commission and to Special Rapporteur Sean Murphy, in particular, for his valuable contributions to this project.

Last fall, the United States was happy to join over eighty other co-sponsors of UN General Assembly resolution 77/249, which established a process for States to further examine and exchange substantive views on the Draft Articles through two resumed sessions of the Sixth Committee and the submission of written comments and observations. We were pleased to participate in the first such session in April, which provided all Member States with the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful, robust exchange of views, without prejudging the decision that this Committee will make next fall on the Commission’s recommendation for the elaboration of a convention on the basis of the Draft Articles. The United States looks forward to submitting written comments and observations on the Draft Articles later this year and encourages all other Member States to do so. We also look forward to next year’s resumed session of the Sixth Committee, where we hope the rich exchange of views by Member States on this important topic will continue.

Separately, we note that the United States continues to take other important steps to address accountability for crimes against humanity. This includes, among other things, the Biden Administration’s expression of support for a proposed statute that would make crimes against humanity offenses under U.S. criminal law, which remains a topic of discussion in the United States Congress.

Finally, the United States unequivocally condemns the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel, including civilians and civilian communities, as well as the taking of hostages. There is never any justification for terrorism. Hundreds of civilians were brutally murdered, including children and the elderly. The United States stands in solidarity with the government and people of Israel and we extend our condolences for the lives lost in these attacks.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.