AGGRESSION

aggression. Int’l law. A grave breach of international law by a nation. • The prohibition of aggression is a pe-remptory rule (jus cogens). Aggressors are guilty of an international crime. But there is no generally accepted definition of what constitutes aggression despite many attempts over the years to devise one. In 1974, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on the Definition of Aggression (Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of December 14, 1974). It defines aggression, in part, as “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of another country, or in a manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations….” The definition does not extend to measures that, in certain circumstances, might constitute aggression, nor does it recognize exceptional circumstances that would make the enumerated acts defensive rather than offensive. The U.N. Security Council has never expressly relied on the resolution when determining whether a nation’s acts constitute a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.” (See U.N. Charter art. 39, 59 Stat. 1031.) The difficulty of finding a generally accepted definition of aggression is reflected in Article 5 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (37 I.L.M. 999). It confers jurisdiction on the Court over “the crime of aggression” but also requires the parties to the Statute to define the crime before the Court can exercise juris-diction. [Cases: War and National Emergency 1, 19. C.J.S. War and National Defense §§ 1, 5–6.]

“Although classical aggression has generally been thought to involve direct military operations by regular national forces under government control, today subjugation and control of peoples may well result from resort to non-military methods. Economic pressures on the other states; demands couched in traditional diplomatic terms but laden with implied threats to compel action or inaction; fifth column activities; the endless propaganda harangue urging another state’s peoples to rise against their government; the aiding and abetting of rebel bands intent on overthrowing another government; and a wide range of other modern techniques must be included in the concept of aggression in so far as they are delicts at international law, for they are directed against the sovereign inde-pendence of a state.” Ann Van Wynen Thomas & A.J. Thomas Jr., The Concept of Aggression in International Law 69 (1972).

direct aggression. Aggression in which a state’s regular armed forces participate.

indirect aggression. Aggression carried out by some means other than through a state’s regular armed forces.

“[I]ndirect aggression would seem to have two prime meanings: (1) delictual acts armed or unarmed and con-ducted vicariously by the aggressor state through third parties which endanger the essential rights of a state, rights upon which its security depends, and (2) delictual acts taken directly by the governing authorities of a state against another state or vicariously through third-party groups which do not involve the use of armed force, but which do endanger the essential rights of a state upon which its security depends. No directly military operations by the regular armed forces of a state are involved in either case; therefore the aggression can be regarded as an indirect method of constraint carried on by the aggressor state.” Ann Van Wynen Thomas & A.J. Thomas Jr., The Concept of Aggression in International Law 69 (1972).