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The International Criminal Court (ICC) brings individuals to trial who commit large-scale political crimes – genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Building on the UN's special tribunals and on new legal precedents of universal jurisdiction, the ICC takes an important step towards global accountability for all, including political and military leaders.
This section provides an overview of the International Criminal Court, including key documents, articles, and analysis on the Court's purpose, its principles, and jurisdiction. The page also includes discussion on the challenges facing the ICC.
UN Documents | Articles | Archive
In a landmark decision, the Security Council has voted to refer perpetrators of human rights abuse in Sudan's Darfur region to the International Criminal Court (ICC), bringing an end to a long-standing discussion between Council members and overcoming the threat of a US veto. The adoption of Resolution 1593 importantly marks the first time the Security Council has referred a case to the ICC. But critics complain that the decision to exempt "States not Party to the Rome Statute" from compliance creates dangerous double standards, and amounts to no more than a trade-off in return for Washington's vote.
The US convinced the UN Security Council to adopt resolution 1422, which granted a twelve-month immunity from the ICC to all UN peacekeeping personnel from states that are not parties to the Rome Statute. The document challenged the ICC, as it imposed a "double-standard" damaging to the Court 's credibility. The Security Council renewed this immunity-resolution in 2003, but Washington failed to gather the necessary support in 2004.
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In 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status in the UN following the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to gain more international recognition. This increased recognition may have significant legal ramifications and is raising hopes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may become the subject of legal oversight, which Israel has steadfastly opposed. However, Florida International University’s Megan A. Fairlie cautions against premature optimism on the part of those who wish to see this conflict, and its recent history, enter the domain of international criminal law. Fairlie argues that the ICC has historically been reticent to involve itself in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that this reluctance is likely to continue. (Jurist)
Despite opposition from Israel and the US, the UN General Assembly voted for Palestine to become a "non-member observer state" at the UN. The upgrade of Palestine’s position from “observer entity” to “non-member observer state” translates to a possible International Criminal Court (ICC) referral of the Israeli regime. Although Palestine declared that it has no immediate intention of accessing the ICC to file a complaint, its renewed status could provide the necessary leverage it needs against Israel’s settlement policy. (Foreign Policy)
The article assesses how leaders perceive an ICC prosecution as a risk when calculating the appropriate response to a threat. Although critics have argued that ICC has failed to deter violence, it has actually succeeded in bringing parties to negotiating tables in the past. This signals positive outcomes of a somewhat shaky, but nonetheless deterring effect of a concept as novel as international criminal law. The article concludes that a rational leader who calculates his/her policy decisions to stay in power in the long-term would take the risk of an ICC prosecution into account. However, the selectivity of ICC prosecutions so far means that some leaders- especially those in the global north- have little to worry about for now. (International Crisis Group)
In the past, the focus of the ICC has been solely on perpetrators of war crimes. The change in leadership has seen a shift in this focus, with more attention given to the victims of these crimes. Sunil Pal, the legal head of the Coalition for the ICC, believes that prioritizing victims will bring greater relevance to the work of the ICC in the places it is investigating. However, a reduced budget and an increase in the caseload may pose problems to this newfound focus of the ICC. (IRIN)
All seven cases before the ICC are about situations in Africa, and two other international tribunals are dedicated to the African continent. Critics point out that African war criminals are singled out over other war criminals under international law. But the author of this article argues that “selective” justice to try war criminals is not necessarily a bad thing. Many African states, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Uganda, referred themselves to the ICC for investigation. (Guardian)
The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) promise of impartial justice for the world’s worst crimes is compromised by the way powerful nations use it to advance their own political interests. The ICC can only pursue criminals from the 121 nations that have ratified the Rome Statute. Otherwise, the UN Security Council must refer criminals to the ICC. The US, China, and Russia have not ratified the Rome Statute, and their veto power protects both their citizens and their allies’ citizens. The author of this article suggests three things: to put pressure for more nations to ratify the Rome Statute, to raise the political cost of a Security Council veto, and to strengthen Universal Jurisdiction in national courts. (NY Times)
Scott Horton interviews Professor William Schobas about new challenges facing the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to achieve impartial justice. Schobas criticized the ICC’s lack of methodology in its “selective prosecution,” a flaw that gives the prosecutor, a single individual, the authority to decide the court’s agenda. Permanent members of the UN Security Council have strong influence on the prosecutor’s decision, and as a result this decision becomes politicized. Schobas also argues for a more precise definition of genocide, especially when “genocide” justifies military intervention. (Harper's Magazine)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed charges against 4 of 6 well-connected members of the Kenyan elite, who have manipulated the Kenyan justice system for many years. But recent ICC steps toward “international justice” have been met with criticism from the African Union. All 25 cases brought to the ICC indict Africans, including a motley crew of warlords, rogue state presidents, and rebel leaders. This article argues that the ICC was too quick to vindicate western interventions in Libya and the Ivory Coast. Will the ICC pursue justice on behalf of victims regardless of political consequence, or act on the interests of powerful nations? (Global)
Ugandan and Congolese citizens often protest against state violence, corruption, and rigged elections. So why hasn’t the spirit of the Arab Spring caught on in Sub-Saharan Africa? This NY Times article argues that corrupt governments in the region receive unwavering support from international actors, like the US and the International Criminal Court. For example, campaigns against “warlords” Joseph Kony and Thomas Lubanga in the name of international justice are compromised by US and ICC cooperation with the Ugandan and Congolese governments, which are themselves responsible for recent war crimes. (NY Times)
Every nation-state at the Rome Conference establishing the International Criminal Court had different ideas of who the ICC would go after and for what reasons. Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, for example, ratified the ICC treaty in hopes that the ICC would try rebels in his country. Instead, the ICC indicted Gbagbo himself. African states comprise 30 percent of the court’s membership, and African citizens have been the only targets of the court’s jurisdiction. This al Jazeera article suggests that a better way to hold African war criminals responsible is to invest in Universal Jurisdiction in various African supreme or high courts. (al Jazeera)
There are 15 cases currently before the International Criminal Court, and all of them are against Africans. Some critics argue that the Court was designed to target leaders who offend powerful western interests. They say that had Robert Bales, the US soldier who shot 17 Afghan civilians, been African, his commander in chief would surely be charged by the Court. Others defend the Court, arguing that every person facing charges, African or not, needs to be held accountable for their human rights violations. This pair of BBC articles looks at the issue from both sides. (BBC)
To this day, the International Criminal Court has not passed a singe judgment. The court that was established in 2002 has dignified goals, namely to punish the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. However, in order to accomplish those goals the court needs to rely on cooperation from states concerned or other third parties, a mission that has proven difficult to achieve. The first long-awaited judgment is expected shortly, but the case has already suffered several postponements and is subject to a possible appeal. (Spiegel)
Fatou Bensouda is the first woman and first African to be appointed chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is the world’s first permanent war crime tribunal and has since its establishment faced criticism for being a Western tool targeting African countries. Bensouda herself states that even though all the court’s current cases are from Africa, this does not prove that the ICC is arbitrarily targeting the continent. However, whether the appointment of Bensouda as the chief prosecutor can shape the perceptions of the court, remains to be seen. (Reuters)
Mexican human rights activist has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting the court to investigate the President, Felipe Calderon and other top officials for torture, kidnapping and the death of hundreds of civilians in the drug related violence in Mexico. Between 2006 and 2010, the human rights commission in Mexico has received over 4,000 complaints of abuses by the army. Although several requirements are met in order for the ICC to take on this case, a decision by the prosecutors’ office could take months or even years. In addition, critics claim that the prosecutor will not leave the comfort zone of investigating crimes committed in African countries and going after the war on drugs in Mexico would fall outside the scope of that comfort zone. (Alertnet)
In December this year the International Criminal Court (ICC) will choose its next prosecutor. The successor of Luis Moreno Ocampo will be elected by the members of the ICC, the Assembly of State Parties, and several NGOs fear that the informal election process will lead to the election of the most popular candidate rather than the highest qualified candidate. NGOs are now pushing for a vote that will be independent and free of political considerations. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will investigate three to six, still unnamed, individuals in Ivory Coast for their actions during the conflict that killed over 3,000 people after last November’s election. This is the first time the ICC has opened up a case in a state that is not a member to the court, following a recognition of jurisdiction from the nonmember state. The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, says that this is the first time they have a good relationship with the national authorities. The investigation is the court’s seventh; all previous investigations took place in Africa and, so far, none of them have reached a verdict. (Associated Press)
Key donors of the International Criminal Court have issued calls for zero growth in the court’s budget. The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), which includes more than 2,500 NGOs, has stated that a zero growth of the courts’ budget would diminish the effectiveness of the court’s work, and obstruct its ability to respond rapidly. It should be up to the judges of the court to determine how the processes are carried out, not for bureaucrats who want to hold down its budget and reduce the ability to fulfill its mandate. (Terraviva)
The international criminal court (ICC) has allowed the prosecutor to open an investigation on the post-election killings and rapes in Côte d'Ivoire. The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked judges’ authorization in June to investigate crimes allegedly committed by forces from both sides of the conflict, those loyal to Laurent Gbagbo as well as of his rival, Alassane Ouattara. Although Côte d'Ivoire is not a state party to the ICC, the Ivorian government has submitted a declaration giving the court jurisdiction for crimes committed after 2002. This is the courts seventh formal investigation; all of them examine crimes in African countries. (Alertnet)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is facing significant leadership transitions. In December, the public face of the court, the first prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will step down after his nine-year term of office. In addition, six new judges, out of a total of 18, will be elected. These changes will occur just as the ICC is about to conclude its first trials. Although the elections in December will be challenging for this fairly new institution, they also offer a chance to do better. However, for this to happen, governments need to put their own interest aside in the elections and not embrace the court whenever it suits them. (Open Society Justice Initiative)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has since its foundation produced ten cases and three trials, marking important steps in the fight against impunity for some of the worst crimes against humanity. However, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the delivery of justice is at risk. Too many victims have been left without justice, since too many key perpetrators and crimes have been bypassed. The report also highlight that the lack of public explanations on why those most responsible are not being pursued, concluding that this undermines the court’s independence and impartiality. In order to achieve the courts goal, the prosecutor needs a different approach to case selection. (Human Rights Watch)
Unless the International Criminal Court (ICC) receives necessary funds, the proposed “zero growth budget” will negatively affect six active ICC investigations in the Central African Republic and will prevent the ICC from working to its full capacity in the future. Currently the ICC is funded by its 116 member states but Christian Wenaweser, president of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, recommends that the UN should start paying for investigations referred to the court by the Security Council for they are often the most expensive. Though it is important that the ICC obtains necessary funding, it is paramount that UN funding does not influence or undermine the Court’s legitimacy as an independent institution.
Civil Society and the government of Cóte d’Ivoire disagree over the “scope” of ICC investigations into various human rights violations that occurred after the 2010 presidential elections. However, human rights abuses occurred as early as September 2002, after a failed coup attempt turned into an armed rebellion and hundreds were murdered in opposition marches. The government of Cóte d’Ivoire insists that the ICC should only look at recent events, arguing that it would be “too difficult” to go back to the source of the conflicts. Civil Society groups argue that it is imperative for the ICC to look at all the violations over the past decade in order to “achieve true reconciliation.” Limiting the scope of the ICC investigations could ultimately prevent justice from being achieved.
On June 24, 2011, Tunisia became the first North African country to join the International Criminal Court. Supporters of the ICC hope that Tunisia will inspire more Middle Eastern countries to sign the Rome Statute—the court’s guiding document. Currently the ICC can only act when national authorities are unable or unwilling to investigate crimes and must primarily rely on cooperation from governments to both investigate and carry out arrest warrants. Increasing the number of states subscribed to the Rome Statute would enhance the universality of the court as well as the legitimacy of the court to act in cases of severe human rights abuses and international law violations.
Following recent accusations that the ICC unfairly targets Africans, ICC deputy prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda issued a statement asserting that the ICC has not elected to pursue cases in Africa, rather Africans have asked the ICC to intervene. Bensouda argues that this high referral rate can “just as easily show” that African leaders are committed to upholding international law. As the ICC gains accountability, it is important not to criticize the ICC for working in one particular area but rather use the successful cases to gain more support and participation in the ICC. (AllAfrica.com)
Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked the ICC judges for permission to open an investigation of those responsible for grave crimes committed after Cote d’Ivoire’s disputed elections. This marks the second time that Moreno-Ocampo has requested to open an investigation of his own accord. Though the Court has been criticized for its disproportionate number of cases in Africa, it is important that the ICC continue to take active measures to hold individuals accountable for their actions, regardless of their location. (UN News Centre)
The International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) will elect the next chief Prosecutor in December 2011. This is only the second election of a Prosecutor in the Court’s history, and the outcome will have a significant impact on future directions of the Court. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the current and inaugural Prosecutor, has been a controversial figure which may prompt the ASP to choose a politically safe candidate. This article considers the range of factors that will influence the election of the next chief Prosecutor. (Justice in Conflict
The International Criminal Court, and its Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo, have been criticized for only pursuing African cases. This article acknowledges that while the ICC role in Africa should be critiqued, its influence is overstated; it is but one player among many addressing African conflicts. The limited resources of the ICC mean it only has the capacity to pursue cases against high-ranking officials that states are either unwilling, or unable, to pursue. Domestic judicial processes have, as a necessity, had to respond to the majority of gross human rights violations. (All Africa
Lawyers acting for former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, have filed a complaint with the ICC against current prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. The complaint alleges that Vejjajiva committed crimes against humanity in a crackdown against Red Shirt protestors in 2010, which resulted in 91 deaths. Shinawatra's motives are highly suspect, as he himself used the Thai police to suppress opponents while prime minister and he is currently evading corruption charges. Shinawatra is likely attempting to use the ICC to further his own agenda, which sullies the investigation of legitimate concerns surrounding the Thai government's conduct during the 2010 Red Shirt protests. (The Nation, Thailand
Open Society Foundations in a new report argues that actors besides the ICC can work toward diminishing "impunity gaps" in international criminal law. The ICC, according to the doctrine of "complementarity," only prosecutes mass crimes that national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute. The OSF suggests that impunity gaps that result can be ameliorated by the combined effort of donor states, civil society and international organizations to promote domestic courts. The report assesses case studies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya. (Open Society Foundations)
The United Nations Security Council plans to visit Sudan next month; however, the US, UK and France insist they cannot meet with the President because of his indictment by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. However, the US has not ratified the Rome Statute and has undermined the ICC with many bilateral agreements. If the US does not want to meet with President al-Bashir, it is likely not because of the US's "allegiance" to the ICC but due to other political motives. (Sudan Tribune)
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attended the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution on Friday. Kenya, as party to the Rome Statute, failed to act on the ICC's arrest warrant for President al-Bashir while he was on Kenyan territory. While Kenya supports the ICC and pledges to cooperate with its ongoing investigations of Kenya's own post-election violence, it has acted in ways that show the general reluctance in Africa to pursue the Bashir warrant. (Capital FM Kenya)
In 2010, the first review conference of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was held in Kampala. Despite fairly low expectations in the lead up to the conference, Kampala produced a remarkable outcome - consensus on the crime of aggression. While some observers argue the ICC's jurisdiction to prosecute this new crime is limited, it is nonetheless an important development in international law. This article considers the practical implications for parties to the Rome Statute as well as nonparties, particularly the US. (Foreign Policy)
The government of Botswana reiterated its commitment to the Rome Statute by warning that Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would be arrested if he set foot on its territory. Botswana's position contrasts with the African Union, which issued a resolution last month emphasizing that its members will not cooperate in apprehending al-Bashir. In response, Botswana stressed its own sovereignty and its right to commit to and uphold international protocols. South Africa also declared it would not cooperate with the AU's resolution. Nonetheless, there is widespread condemnation of the arrest warrant for al-Bashir across the continent, which may indicate that the International Criminal Court lacks legitimacy in Africa. (Sudan Tribune)
At an event honoring the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized the need to ensure that justice is brought upon those responsible for killing over 8,000 Bosniaks 15 years ago. He noted that reconciliation and the securing of trust and peace after conflict depends on bringing perpetrators to account. The International Criminal Court deemed the Srebrenica events to be genocide, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted 21 people and sentenced them to a total of 476 years in prison. But the Secretary-General and others suggest that there is still much more to be done. (Sophia Echo)
For the first time, the International Criminal Court has accused a sitting head of state of committing crimes of genocide. On Monday, the ICC charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with three counts of genocide, including targeted mass killing and causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a target group. Bashir's National Congress Party has rejected the court's decision and will disregard the second arrest warrant for al-Bashir. (Washington Post)
On June 22, 2010, GPF interviewed William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and Jennifer Trahan, Assistant Clinical Professor at New York University, about the relevance and outcome of the Review Conference of the International Criminal Court. The conference took place in Kampala, Uganda, from May 30 until June 12, 2010. The discussion focussed mainly on the amendment on the crime of aggression and the role of the United States during the negotiations.
The two-week ICC Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda, has ended with the states parties agreeing upon a resolution defining the crime of aggression. The states parties, however, failed to give the International Criminal Court primary jurisdiction over the crime. Instead, a compromise was reached in which the UN Security Council will have the main role in determining whether an act of aggression has taken place. This final agreement was strongly supported by several countries, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia. (Al Jazeera)
The International Criminal Court provides a model of humane, civilized detention that contrasts starkly with the nature of the crimes the inmates are accused of. These inmates are former Congolese warlords, Serbian Militia leaders and a former Liberian president who all live in luxurious surroundings. Additional benefits are travel subsidies for family visits from distant African countries which cost tens of thousands of euros. Some donor nations now ask the question whether the detainee's entitlements have reached their limits (New York Times)
States parties to the International Criminal Court will gather from May 31 to June 11 2010 in Kampala, Uganda, to consider amendments to the ICC treaty and take stock of the work and impact of the Court's work since its establishment. This article takes an advance look at key issues on the agenda at Kampala. The most controversial issue will be the adoption of a provision defining the crime of aggression and setting out the conditions under which the Court would exercise jurisdiction with respect to this crime. (ASIL)
The priority of reconciliation over justice in Afghanistan is increasingly finding support among the Afghan government and the United States-led coalition. A recent example is the resurrection of an amnesty law by the Kabul government that grants immunity to warlords and extremists responsible for the worst crimes. Until now, the United States and most of its allies have remained largely silent on the law. Candace Rondeaux argues that the persons responsible for the worst atrocities in Afghanistan should not go unpunished. She suggests another route to accountability and stability in Afghanistan, through the prosecution of Taliban leaders by the International Criminal Court. (New York Times)
Foreign trading companies have taken substantial advantage of the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by providing weapons and munitions to armed groups in exchange of access to mineral resources. The International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute private or public legal persons for their involvement in international crimes. The Rome Statute of the ICC provides that the Court can only prosecute individuals. International crimes, however, are usually committed by individuals linked to organizations. Therefore, this paper argues that the ICC should have jurisdiction over legal persons. (Coalition for the ICC)
Opinions are divided over the International Criminal Court (ICC). One particular area of concern is how the ICC Prosecutor decides which crimes to investigate. In this article, the author argues that the ICC should explicitly recognize it is "judicial institution operating in a political world." The ICC cannot simply just "apply the law" because it is governed by issues of viability, efficacy, efficiency and independence. (Open Democracy)
The defense of the Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, will begin this week. Mr Dyilo's case is the first to come before the International Criminal Court. Children, as well as experts, are to bear witness to the charges of recruiting, training and using hundreds of children to "pillage, rape and kill." (allAfrica)
The International Criminal Court (ICC), much to the annoyance of the African Union (AU), has so far brought cases solely against Africans. The AU's unhappiness with the court's work became very evident after the AU's refusal in July 2009 to cooperate with the arrest of the President of Sudan, Omar al Bashir. Leaders of the AU argue that the indictment against al Bashir undermines the ongoing peace process in the Sudan region. Supporters of the ICC, however, argue that most ongoing cases were referred to the ICC by African governments themselves. Furthermore, it is argued that the ICC's focus on Africa is the result of weak African domestic judicial systems. (Afrik.com)
This report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) discusses the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the last ten years. It discusses the ongoing investigations, the United States' position on the Court, the African bias against the Court and the future challenges for the ICC. The FIDH took an active role in the establishment of the ICC and monitors the proceedings currently in front of the Court.
Last year The International Criminal Court made charges against Abu Garda, the leader of a Darfur rebel group, for three accounts of war crimes. Abu Garda voluntarily appeared before the court for a pre trial "confirmation of charges" hearing. Now that the pre charge trial is over the ICC has 60 days to decide whether to proceed with an actual trial. The court must tread carefully. Abu Garda's voluntary surrender may be seen as a deliberate attempt to promote his own political cause (by contrasting his compliance with the non compliance of Sudanese President, Al Basher - also wanted by the ICC). As such, the ICC risks becoming even further embroiled with Sudanese internal politics. (ISN)
The indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sparked debate in Africa over the alleged double standard of the Court. More often than not, criticism of the ICC - however constructive - is denounced as endorsing impunity, while support - no matter how reasonable - is branded as imperialism. Meanwhile, a key underlying issue remains unaddressed, spawning a vicious circle. Because the domestic courts in most African countries are weak, they are unable to prosecute gross violations, making the involvement of the ICC - a court of last resort - more likely. In return, the time and money invested in the international court and other ad hoc tribunals hampers the development of Africa's national judicial systems. (Africa Renewal
The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, Bashir. This has led to African allegations that the ICC is a "western tool." The African State signatories to the Rome Statute meet this week to review their support of the ICC. This Amnesty report calls for renewed African support for the ICC. The ICC must, it says, remain free from any political involvement in order maintain integrity and encourage support. (Amnesty International
African lawyers, scholars and human rights advocates convening in Madrid for an international bar association meeting have expressed growing concerns of anti-African bias in international justice. Pointing to Hague Courts filled mostly with African defendants, they denounced the double standard practiced by the Western powers and warned that for many people international justice increasingly looked like a neocolonial project. This perception is hindering efforts by the UN to take the next step to implement the Rome Statute in Africa. (Christian Science Monitor)
In a recent resolution allowing Omar al Bashir to travel freely in Africa, the African Union reaffirmed its opposition to the ICC 's indictment of the Sudanese President by the Court. To this day, the ICC has selected only four cases for prosecution, all of them against Africans. This has fueled criticism condemning the Court as a tool of Western imperialism, leading some African countries to express a growing distrust in its rulings. This resolution does not reflect Africa's unity against the ICC, rather it highlights the balance of power in the region and AU President Omar Gaddafi's influence on the decision. (Foreign Policy In Focus)
The argument that politics must trump law, since peace is more important than justice, is one which constantly reappears in the international justice debate. The author of this article addresses the issue of state sovereignty with respect to compliance with international law. It questions the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) indictment of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, given that Sudan, like the US, is opposed to the Court. Furthermore, in its application of justice the ICC has proven extremely selective in targeting solely African countries. African critics of the court instead call for "African solutions to African problems." (Spiked)
As of 2009, the The author of this article argues that the International Criminal Court (ICC) only considers human rights and ignores the political situation and democratic process, resulting in a form of "human rights fundamentalism." The author argues that the main motivation behind ICC indictments is the criminal form of justice. This article argues that prioritizing political justice has often worked better in African countries like South African after the apartheid regime, where the "anti-apartheid struggle prioritized political justice over criminal justice" and in several other countries, like Mozambique, South and North Sudan. (Pambazuka)
As of 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted 13 suspected war criminals. All of these indicted persons are from African countries, namely the DRC, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Uganda. This article shows that the ICC has a Euro-American focus, meaning the court is mainly used as a political tool against developing countries. The US has yet to join the ICC and the court has never indicted a Western individual. Therefore, the author argues that the ICC needs to internationalize its focus in order to sustain its legitimacy. (Inter Press Service)
This Spiegel article explores the dilemma between restoring peace and bringing justice to places in conflict. Many Africans challenge the idea that Western justice, promoted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), can bring peace to the continent. Traditional amnesties and systems of truth and reconciliation are preferred modes of justice and have encouraged the peace process. But legalists fear these traditional systems promote a "let-bygones-be-bygones-principle" and therefore undermine the ICC and a Western sense of justice.
ICC prosecutors take a flawed approach to investigating war crime charges because of time pressure. Former ICC case investigators complain that they did not get the opportunity to investigate a case thoroughly and that prosecutors only allowed them to focus on specific crimes. Because of the prosecutor's one-sided approach, many sexual violence crimes go unpunished. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
A group of human rights lawyers, academics and NGO's openly criticize the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Mr. Ocampo issued an arrest warrant for genocide against the Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, but did not consult the court's pre-trial chamber before announcing the warrant. British academic Alex de Waal has argued that Ocampo made a political statement and did not act carefully and responsibly. (Guardian)
Critics of the International Criminal Court (ICC) oppose the court's focus on African nations. However the ICC encourages self-referrals, as a "court of last resort," and the only countries to come forward with requests for ICC intervention are African. This Council on Foreign Relations report looks at the criticisms directed at the court, such as unfair treatment of the defense and that the court may exacerbate ongoing conflicts. The report also looks at the future of the US' relationship with the ICC, where the US continues to financially penalize countries that are signatories to the Rome statute.
Author Margaret Burnham looks at the debate about the International Criminal Court's (ICC) cases against Sudan's President Omar al Bashir and the Democratic Republic of Congo's militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The cases highlight the tension between the court's judicial responsibilities and the larger process of peacemaking. Burnham argues that "the ICC has yet to work out its role as the preeminent institution in international criminal justice," and that the court is vulnerable because it often depends on the cooperation of hostile domestic actors. As an institution with broad jurisdiction over international war crimes, the ICC must meet fair trial standards yet effectively arbitrate violent conflicts. (Global Policy Forum)
This openDemocracy article compares the successes and failures of the International Criminal Court in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). Local populations and victims of human rights violations find that the Court's approach is one-sided because it focuses more on the prosecution of rebels than of governmental perpetrators. Inhabitants of Uganda, the DRC and Sudan also find that prosecutions by the ICC hamper the local peace process and they complain that the investigations proceed too slowly.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) "is still finding its feet" five years after its creation. The ICC depends on international backing for apprehending suspects, intelligence and funds. Without improved political and financial support, the court could fail in its attempt to end impunity for war criminals, according to this openDemocracy
article. The author suggests the ICC prosecutor continue to shame the founding states into turning their "high-flown rhetoric into concrete action."
This Royal African Society report discusses the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Africa and explains the political and social context of the court. Signatories to the Rome Statute can use the ICC for their own interest by asking the prosecutor to investigate a specific case. For example, Ugandan president Museveni asked the ICC to investigate war crimes by the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) yet the Ugandan government itself also allegedly committed similar crimes.
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a militia leader in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the ICC's third suspect in custody as of the beginning of February 2008. Human Rights Watch
applauds this arrest, but maintains that the three rebel leaders now in custody "did not act alone" and that the ICC should investigate senior government officials as well.
International Criminal Court's President, Judge Philipe Kirsch addressed the United Nations to convey the Court's achievements. The ICC "is fully operational" and has investigations in four countries - DRC, Uganda, CAR and Sudan. More than a hundred State Parties have signed and ratified the ICC, and the numbers keep growing. Kirsch requested greater support because if the governments cooperate with the investigations and arrests, it will give the Court more credibility. (UN News)
This International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report looks at the relationship between truth commissions and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICRC believes that the two are not mutually exclusive, suggesting that the ICC and truth commissions may compliment each other. For instance, ICC prosecutors can use evidence amassed by truth commissions when prosecuting war criminals. The report, however, argues that truth commissions combined with amnesties conflict with the ICC and would impede the courts work.
Authors Baines and Bradbury point out in this Sudan Tribune
article that the Acholi of Northern Uganda support a peace that is grounded in local justice mechanisms, rather than the ICC indictments which are considered a barrier to peace and an incomplete form of justice. The authors deplore the current "ICC or nothing" mentality and instead call upon international actors to stop "preaching justice" but to offer resources, expertise and support to bolster the Ugandan judicial system.
In this article, author Richard Dowden poses the following questions: "What is the point of the ICC's justice? Who is it for?" He uses several examples to point out that various wars in Africa were ended through restorative means, which are at odds with the retributive punishment the ICC employs. The author concludes that "peace" and "reconciliation" must be as close to the heart of the ICC as "justice," which he suspects may be nothing more than a salve for Western consciences. (Prospect Magazine
This article responds to the heavy criticism on the ICC's issue of arrest warrants for the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. Though many fear the warrants obstruct peace, the author argues that the threat of international prosecution is what keeps the peace talks going. In addition, he argues that if the Ugandan government compromises with the LRA on ICC prosecutions, while upholding their obligations as a signatory to the Rome Statute, this would not be a failure, but rather a significant step forward for the ICC. (Prospect Magazine
According to this Inter Press Service article, the International Criminal Court could have "averted the numerous flaws" that marked the Iraq Tribunal's criminal proceedings against Saddam Hussein. Instead, the US – a staunch ICC opponent as well as the main occupying power in Iraq – played a big role in setting up the special court, whose legitimacy and neutrality often came into question. The author argues that the widely-criticized judicial process in the former Iraqi dictator's case highlights the need for an international forum to deliver justice.
Ahead of a meeting with NGOs and journalists in September 2006, the International Criminal Court prosecution team issued a report outlining the progress made, along with the difficulties encountered, in the past three years. At the public hearings, NGO representatives called for greater impartiality in the selection of cases, urging prosecutors to investigate "all sides of an ethnic conflict." Although the ICC cannot demand full cooperation from states, participants at the meeting advised the Court to put more resources towards securing the arrest of key suspects. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has set up a department to help put defense lawyers on "equal footing" with prosecutors. The initiative seeks to address human rights lawyers' complaints that some tribunal practices benefit the prosecution and "could prejudice the rights of the accused." The ICC's new Office of Public Counsel for the Defense aims to give legal advice and increase access to important documents to enable defense teams to better represent their clients. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
With no police force of its own, the International Criminal Court (ICC) relies on local law enforcement agencies to protect individuals involved in the court's investigations in Uganda, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICC has set up the Victims and Witnesses Unit, a team of trauma experts, to foster an environment of security and some degree of anonymity for those who voluntarily participate in investigations. However, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo notes that the absence of a "functioning and sustainable system" for victim and witness protection discourages people from taking part in ICC inquiries. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
In addition to financial constraints and notable absences from the US, China, India, Israel and Russia, the International Criminal Court (ICC) struggles with balancing international law with national jurisdictions as well as deciding if trials bring more justice from abroad or at home, where the crimes took place. Despite these obstacles, the ICC has enjoyed some success such as the Security Council's referral of the Darfur case to the Court without opposition from the US. While continuing to encourage member states to cooperate in investigations, the ICC will amend its statute in 2009 to include jurisdiction over crimes like drug trafficking. (Cafe Babel)
The author writes about the growing trend towards holding political leaders in Africa accountable for crimes such as corruption, rape and genocide. Not only are national courts taking action against former leaders such as Liberian Charles Taylor, but the Ivory Coast, Congo and Uganda have all invited the International Criminal Court to investigate the actions of armed groups. Although many of the court actions are politically motivated, observers believe the shift demonstrates a movement where impunity will not be tolerated. (Washington Post)
This paper addresses civilian abuse at the hands of UN peacekeepers, and it asks whether the ICC can play a role in their prosecution. The authors conclude that the role of the ICC itself will be marginal as it has limited jurisdiction, and the court is meant as a complement to national jurisdictions. However, the authors hope that the very existence of the ICC will encourage domestic institutions to "prosecute all those guilty of international crimes, including peacekeepers." (Institute for Security Studies)
Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, points out that the International Criminal Court serves a higher purpose, beyond bringing human rights violators to justice. In Nuremberg, and the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for Yugoslavia, legal investigators seeking to prosecute war criminals also succeeded in establishing an accurate record of events that may otherwise have escaped full historical notice. The ICC is thus important in ensuring that justice is served in the present, and that facts are collected to prevent future bloodshed. (International Herald Tribune)
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court
highlights how the Millennium+5 outcome document can affect the role of the ICC in international justice. The outcome document, supported by Secretary General Kofi Annan and the majority of the EU states, urges the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC as a means to fulfill the "responsibility to protect," a principle at stake at the Millennium+5 Summit.
If the individuals working at the International Criminal Court (ICC) succeed in bringing peace and justice to Darfur, they have an unprecedented opportunity to cement the legitimacy of the world body. The German publication Der Spiegel explores this opportunity, as well as the history and potential future of the ICC, through interviews with the key players in charge of various aspects of the Darfur investigation.
This openDemocracy piece analyzes "transitional justice" – the idea that applying justice to those in former governments who committed war crimes will "help heal divided societies." The author pays special attention to the relationship between the International Criminal Court and national judicial systems, and evaluates their role in long-term stability.
Article 53 of the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute stipulates that in certain cases, "an investigation would not serve the interests of justice." This Human Rights Watch paper argues for the adoption of specific guidelines on the meaning of the phrase in order to ensure that the institution operates with transparent and egalitarian principles.
Several anti-war organizations are pursuing a case against the UK government, claiming that it acted unlawfully by invading Iraq with the US. The International Criminal Court (ICC) will consider evidence that British troops acted "beyond the bounds of military necessity" by pursuing the unlawful goal of regime change in Iraq. Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Luis Moreno-Ocampo says he will take the "potentially significant" claim seriously. (Guardian
The Central African Republic (CAR) is the third country to refer its war crimes situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty International
(AI) commends this action but urges the CAR government to launch its own inquiry into human rights atrocities, as the ICC cannot prosecute crimes committed prior to its July 2001 inception. AI also encourages the government to implement legislation in compliance with the Rome Statute in order to overcome impunity.
In an effort to bridge the gap between the International Criminal Court and ordinary people affected by war crimes, the Rome Statute and rules of procedure allow for the representation of victims before the court. This article identifies some problems with such an initiative and raises questions about collective representation, remuneration, legal aid, and the need to train local jurists who are better able to represent their fellow citizens at the international level. (Victims' Rights Working Group
As the General Assembly elects new judges for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), NGOs and observers hope transparency issues in the ICTY will not plague the International Criminal Court as well. Critics of current tribunal election processes say lack of common procedures leads to "political deals and vote trading," and now call for increased "public scrutiny." However, some also believe the ICC's current election methods and independence from the UN already demonstrate improved procedures. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan signed an agreement of cooperation with the President of the International Criminal Court, a move Annan considers an important development for the court and in the interests of UN members. NGOs in the Coalition for the International Criminal Court believe the agreement between "two of the most powerful global justice institutions" will help "end impunity for the perpetrators of the world's most atrocious crimes." (Associated Press)
Officials from countries supporting the International Criminal Court have proposed an $84 million budget for 2005. NGOs complain that such limited funding could prevent the ICC from effectively increasing participation, protecting victims and prosecuting new cases. (Inter Press Service)
This report analyses the role and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) investigations in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report concludes that the ICC could play a positive role in resolving ongoing conflicts while fostering the rule of law and promoting social justice. (Citizens for Global Solutions)
Board members of the Victims Trust Fund (VTF) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) met to formulate criteria assessing the distribution of reparations to victims and their families. The VTF will benefit victims of crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC. (Jordan Times
This Peace and Conflict Monitor
essay analyzes the differences in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the jurisdictions of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia.
Two models of international relations, the traditional "Grotian" and the new "Kantian" model, are competing for primacy in the international community. Antonio Cassese, the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, sees the International Criminal Court as a significant step towards the Kantian model. (Crimes of War)
Former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who killed more than 300,000 of his own people, spent the last years of his life in a comfortable Saudi villa. The International Criminal Court now offers hope that future horrors will not go similarly unpunished. (New York Times)
Elise Groulx, a public defender in Montreal, lobbied governments to provide for defense attorneys in the ICC, and won. For Ms. Groulx, justice requires that even those guilty of the most henious crimes receive competent legal defense. (Gazette)
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo describes what areas and issues the new court will first investigate. (ICC)
Reporters Without Borders
and Network Damocles
provide a comprehensive guide for victims of human rights violations seeking justice through the ICC.
Torture survivors unequivocally support the ICC, saying that public recognition of their suffering is vital to overcome their trauma. The ICC's trust fund will provide reparations to victims of war crimes, also an important step towards their rehabilitation. (OneWorld)
Republic of Congo (ROC) President Denis Sassou-Nguesso promised to ratify the ICC statute and the UN Convention against Torture. Sassou-Nguesso said that the promotion and protection of human rights is among the top priorities of his government, especially in the wake of the chaos in his country. (Integrated Regional Information Network)
Argentinean ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo speaks of the ICC's vital role in stamping out impunity, promoting respect for human rights and of complementing national courts worldwide. Ocampo also played down US fears of politically motivated prosecutions, emphasizing the quality and integrity of the court's officials. (UN News)
Diplomats from several countries expect Argentine Lawyer, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to be elected as the first prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. Mr. Moreno is famous for campaigning against business corruption in South America and is a vocal advocate of human rights. (New York Times)
The International Criminal Court only needs to find a suitable prosecutor to begin hearings later this year. This article discusses cases that the ICC is likely to take on in its initial stages. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Member states elected Canadian diplomat Phillipe Kirsch as the ICC's first President. Kirsch is determined to make the court a viable, non-politicized tool to fight impunity, proving US efforts to undermine the court are misguided. (Globe and Mail)
Benjamin Ferencz, a former prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials, addresses The Hague on the rule of law and the ICC's role in stamping out impunity. Ferencz believes the US would do well to remember the pertinent lesson learnt by the Germans in World War II: Accepting the doctrine "my country right or wrong" is a recipe for disaster. (Benjamin B. Ferencz Website)
The International Criminal Court inaugurated its first set of eighteen judges, symbolizing a key step in preserving its legitimacy in the face of US opposition. Skepticism grows over the legitimacy of US "bilateral immunity agreements", especially in a time when the US seeks as much support as possible for the War on Terror. (Human Rights Watch)
As the ICC's 18 judges are officially sworn in, this article discusses challenges facing the court in the coming years. (Guardian)
This article questions the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court. The author claims that the elected judges' beliefs don't cover a broad enough political spectrum. Furthermore, the Rome Statute's general language allows them too much latitude to â€˜create' law in line with these beliefs. (Wall Street Journal)
International Criminal Court officials are firmly committed to beginning proceedings in May 2003, despite a concerted campaign by the US to undermine and discredit the court. (Harvard International Review)
This article tracks the historic events of the 1990s that led to the ICC's creation. Human rights activists played a crucial role in galvanizing political support for the ICC and their success strikes a vital blow against impunity. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The ICC elected three of its first eighteen judges without a two-thirds majority vote from member States, a requirement of the Rome Statute which governs the court's procedures. This article argues that such an early departure from procedural compliance could undermine the court's integrity. (Wall Street Journal)
The ICC completed historic elections for its first 18 judges, including the appointment of seven women to the bench. This UN Press release contains the names and nationalities of the elected judges and details on the voting procedure. (UN Press)
Human Rights Watch makes a passionate appeal for states to dispense with the standard diplomatic procedure of vote trading and elect the best legal minds for the ICC panel. The quality of the elected judges will be key to the credibility of the court.
The ICC may have many cases when it begins proceedings including possible actions against leaders of the Ivory Coast conflict. The court has many problems to address first though, including its meager budget and finding a suitable prosecutor. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting
The US has not ratified the ICC Treaty after its demands that US citizens be exempt from prosecution were rejected. Consequently, the 18 justices elected by the ICC will not include a US citizen. (UN Wire)