international criminal court

“Exploring The World of Global Justice: The International Criminal Court ICC” [2023]

Share your love

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. Its jurisdiction includes the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based international criminal court established to complement existing national judicial systems. It is intended to investigate, prosecute and try individuals for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international court formed to investigate, prosecute and start trials against individuals that are accused of committing the most serious crimes which is of concern to the international community as a whole

As of now, 123 countries are Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Among them, 33 are African nations, 19 are from the Asia-Pacific region, 18 are from Eastern Europe, 28 are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 25 are from Western Europe and other regions.

MandateInternational Criminal Court is an intergovernmental, international tribunal for Criminal prosecution of individuals (for action against nations there is ICJ) for four main crimes namely:-
1. Genocide,
2. War crimes,
3. Crimes against humanity
4. Crime of aggression.
International Criminal Court is the first permanent, treaty based, international court formed to help end impunity for the Culprits of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
EstablishedInternational Criminal Court was formed in year 2002 by the Rome statue.
HQInternational Criminal Court is situated in Hague, Netherlands.
The ICC official seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings can take place anywhere.
FundingInternational Criminal Court expenses are funded majorly by States Parties,
It also receives contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
CompositionJudges: 18; Elected for 9-year term.
Members: 122 countries.
Israel, United States, Russia, china and India are not its member.
LanguageIt has two working languages namely English and French. There are 6 official languages namely, English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Russian.
Member states123
PresidentPiotr Hofmański
First Vice-PresidentLuz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza
Rome Statute adopted17 July 1998
Entered into force1 July 2002

Is ICC Biased ?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been criticized for focusing on crimes committed by individuals from less powerful countries, while ignoring crimes committed by individuals from more powerful countries. The ICC has been criticized for not pursuing cases against individuals from countries such as the United States, Russia, and China, despite allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Critics argue that the ICC is unable to hold powerful countries accountable for international crimes due to political pressure and a lack of cooperation from these countries. The ICC has limited resources and relies heavily on the cooperation of states to carry out its functions, which is harder to obtain from more powerful countries.

However, it is important to note that the ICC is a court of last resort, which means it can only prosecute individuals when national authorities are unwilling or unable to do so themselves. The ICC can only investigate and prosecute crimes if the state where the crime occurred is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute the case itself. Also, The ICC can only investigate and prosecute cases if they are referred to it by the United Nations Security Council or by a state that is a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

In conclusion, the ICC has been criticized for focusing on crimes committed by individuals from less powerful countries, while ignoring crimes committed by individuals from more powerful countries. However, the ICC’s ability to hold powerful countries accountable for international crimes is limited by factors such as political pressure, lack of cooperation, and its role as a court of last resort.

How ICC Function

The International Criminal Court functions as follows:

  1. Investigation: The ICC conducts investigations into alleged war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
  2. Prosecution: The ICC prosecutor can bring charges against individuals suspected of committing international crimes if they are deemed admissible by the Pre-Trial Chamber.
  3. Pre-trial: The Pre-Trial Chamber is responsible for determining whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial and whether the case is admissible before the ICC.
  4. Trial: The ICC conducts trials for individuals charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
  5. Sentencing: If an individual is found guilty, the ICC delivers a sentence, which may include imprisonment, fines, or other forms of punishment.
  6. Appeal: Both the prosecution and defense can appeal the decision of the trial chamber.
  7. Enforcement: The ICC cooperates with national authorities to enforce its sentences and arrest suspects who are at large.
  8. Cooperation: The ICC relies on the cooperation of states, international organizations, and other actors to carry out its functions.
  9. Membership: The ICC is open to all states that ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

ICC vs ICJ

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE- ICJINTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT-ICC
ESTABLISHEMENT YEAR19462002
RELATIONSHIP WITH U.NOfficial court of U.N. commonly known as ’World Court".Independent. Not governed by U.N. Can receive referrals from UNSC. Can initiate prosecution without UN action.
HEADQUARTERSPeace Palace, HagueHague
JURISDICTIONU.N Member states. Can give advisory opinions to UN bodies. Cannot try individuals. Applies International LawIndividuals accused of international crimes. Uses International Law, as war crimes violate Geneva Convention.
TYPES OF CASESSovereignty, boundary disputes, maritime disputes, trade, natural resources, human rights, treaty violations, treaty interpretation, etc.Genocide. crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression.
DERIVES AUTHORITY FROMStates that ratify the U.N. Charter become parties to the ICJ Statute. Non-UN member states can also become parties to the ICJ by ratifying the ICJ Statute.Rome Statute
APPEALSICJ decision is binding. UNSC can review if states do not comply.Appeals Chamber, according to Rome Statute.
FUNDINGU.N fundedcontribution from state parties to the Rome Statute; voluntary contributions from the U.N; voluntary contributions from governments. international organizations, individuals, corporations and
International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice

Challenges faced by ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) faces several challenges in terms of its mandate, funding, and political pressure. These challenges include:

  1. Lack of universal jurisdiction: The ICC’s jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed by individuals from states that have ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. Many countries, including the United States and China, have not ratified the Rome Statute, which limits the ICC’s ability to hold individuals from these countries accountable for international crimes.
  2. Complementarity principle: The ICC is a court of last resort and can only investigate and prosecute crimes if the state where the crime occurred is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute the case itself. This principle is subject to interpretation and political influence, which can limit the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  3. Lack of enforcement: The ICC relies on the cooperation of states to enforce its sentences and arrest suspects who are at large. Some states have been unwilling to cooperate with the ICC, which limits the ICC’s ability to enforce its sentences.
  4. Limited resources: The ICC has limited resources and relies heavily on voluntary contributions from states to fund its operations. This can limit the ICC’s ability to carry out its functions effectively.
  5. Political pressure: The ICC has been criticized for being overly influenced by political considerations in its decision-making process. Political pressure from powerful countries can limit the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  6. Lack of Cooperation: The ICC’s investigations have been hampered by lack of cooperation from some states, which have refused to provide evidence, arrest suspects, or enforce sentences, further limiting the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  7. Lack of public awareness and understanding: The ICC’s actions and decisions are not always well understood by the public, which can limit the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  8. Criticism from powerful countries: Some powerful countries have criticized the ICC as a politically motivated institution, which has limited the ICC’s ability to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  9. Limited mandate: The ICC’s mandate is limited to the prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, which means that it does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute other serious crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist activities.

How to make ICC unbiased

Here are a few ways in which the International Criminal Court (ICC) could potentially become more unbiased:

  1. Increasing the representation of countries from different regions on the ICC’s governing bodies: Currently, the ICC’s governing bodies are heavily represented by Western countries. Increasing the representation of countries from different regions, including developing countries, could help to ensure that the ICC’s decision-making process is more inclusive and representative of the global community.
  2. Establishing clear and transparent criteria for initiating investigations: The ICC has been criticized for being overly influenced by political considerations in its decision-making process. Establishing clear and transparent criteria for initiating investigations, such as a focus on the most serious international crimes, would help to ensure that the ICC’s actions are based on the evidence and the law, rather than on political considerations.
  3. Enhancing cooperation with national authorities: The ICC relies heavily on the cooperation of national authorities to carry out its functions. Enhancing cooperation with national authorities, particularly in countries where the ICC is investigating or prosecuting crimes, would help to ensure that the ICC’s actions are complementary to national efforts to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  4. Improving the ICC’s outreach and communication efforts: The ICC has been criticized for not doing enough to communicate its actions and decisions to the public. Improving the ICC’s outreach and communication efforts would help to ensure that the public is better informed about the ICC’s actions and decisions and that the ICC is more accountable to the public.
  5. Establishing a mechanism for the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by powerful countries: As the ICC can only investigate and prosecute crimes if the state where the crime occurred is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute the case itself, a mechanism could be established to address this issue.
  6. Allowing for external review of the ICC’s decision-making process: The ICC’s decision-making process could benefit from external review to ensure that it is fair and impartial.
  7. Encouraging the ICC to engage with civil society organizations and victims groups: The ICC could benefit from engaging with civil society organizations and victims groups to ensure that the voices of victims are heard and that the ICC’s actions are responsive to the needs of victims.

It’s important to note that the ICC is a complex institution, and these suggestions alone may not be sufficient to make it completely unbiased. The ICC also faces challenges in terms of its mandate, funding, and political pressure, which also need to be addressed to improve its functioning.

Now listed below is Some History related to ICC.

What is the International Criminal Court?

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent international court formed to investigate, prosecute and start trials against individuals that are accused of committing the most serious crimes which is of concern to the international community as a whole, The crimes against which ICC acts are majorly-
    • crime of genocide,
    • crimes against humanity,
    • war crimes and
    • the crime of aggression.

Why was the ICC established?

  • A number of most henious crimes were committed in the course of the conflicts that occurred throughout the twentieth century. Sadly, most of these crimes which breached the international law have remained unpunished.
  • In 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted, and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognised the necessity for an everlasting international court to take care of the kinds of atrocities which had simply been perpetrated.
  • The thought of a system of international criminal justice re-emerged after the end of the Cold War.
  • As negotiations on the ICC Statute were underway at the United Nations, the world was witnessing the commission of heinous crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.
  • In response to those atrocities, the United Nations Safety Council established an ad hoc tribunal for every of those conditions.
  • These occasions undoubtedly had a most vital impact on the choice to convene the conference which established the ICC in Rome in the summer of 1998.

What is the Rome Statute?

  • 17 July 1998, a conference of 160 States formed the first treaty-based permanent international criminal court. The treaty adopted during that convention is called the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
  • Rome Statute sets out
    • the crimes which falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC,
    • the rules of procedure
    • the mechanisms for States to cooperate with the ICC.
  • The nations which have ratified these rules are known as States Parties of ICC and are represented in the Assembly of States Parties.
  • The Assembly of States Parties meets at least once a year, and it sets the policies for the administration of the International Criminal Court and also reviews its activities.

How many countries have ratified the Rome Statute?

As of 2021  International Criminal Court  governing body, the Assembly of States Parties consists of 123 countries which have signed the Rome Statute:

  • 33 from the Africa region, 19 from the Asia-Pacific region, 18 from Eastern Europe, 28 from the Latin American and Caribbean region, and 25 from Western Europe and North America.

The list of Memebers is here

Where is the seat of the International Criminal Court?

The permanent seat of the International Criminal Court is in Hague located in the Netherlands. However the Rome Statute authorises that the Court can sit elsewhere whenever the judges of ICC consider it desirable.

How is the International Criminal Court funded?

Mainly from contributions by the States Parties as well as by voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

Is the ICC an office or agency of the United Nations?

No. The International Criminal Court is an independent body it tries individuals for henious crimes within its jurisdiction without requiring mandate from the United Nations. the ICC and the United Nations signed an agreement on 4 October 2004 governing their institutional relationship.

Structure of the ICC

The ICC is composed of four organs. Each of these organs has a specific role and mandate

  • the Presidency,
  • the Chambers,
  • the Office of the Prosecutor
  • the Registry.
international criminal court structure
international criminal court structure

Limitations of international criminal court

  • As a judicial establishment, the ICC doesn’t have its personal police force or enforcement body; thus, it depends on cooperation with nations worldwide for help, notably for making arrests, transferring arrested individuals to the ICC detention centre in The Hague, freezing suspects’ belongings, and imposing sentences.
  • This State cooperation is problematic for a number of causes as it can skew the  ICC in its choice of cases.
  • State cooperation additionally provides the ICC less deterrent power, as potential perpetrators of war crimes can influence the local authorities.
  • There’s inadequate checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges.
  • ICC has been accused of being a instrument of Western imperialism and biased in favour of powerful nations.
  • ICC can’t impose a death sentence; it could impose imprisonment of as much as 30 years or life when so justified by the gravity of the circumstances.
  • The ICC courtroom has no retrospective jurisdiction as it could deal only with crimes committed after 1 July 2002 when the 1998 Rome Statute came to force.
  • ICC has automated jurisdiction just for crimes committed on the territory of a state which has signed the treaty; or by a citizen of such a country; or when the United Nations Security Council refers a case to it.
  • Procedural and substantive deficiencies resulting in delays and frustration, have questioned the efficacy of the ICC.
  • It additionally faces shortage of human sources and funds.
international criminal court
international criminal court

India and ICC

India is not a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). Therefore, India is not legally bound by the ICC’s jurisdiction and Indian citizens and officials are not subject to prosecution by the ICC. However, India has cooperated with the ICC on a voluntary basis in the past, for example by providing evidence in cases related to other countries.

India has also been critical of the ICC’s actions in the past, particularly with respect to the court’s investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, which include alleged crimes by the Taliban, Afghan security forces, and the US military. India has argued that the investigation is unlikely to be impartial and that it could undermine the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan.

India has also raised concerns that the ICC could be used to target developing countries, while ignoring crimes committed by powerful countries. India has also expressed concerns that the ICC could be used to pursue politically motivated prosecutions.

India has also been part of the coalition of countries which have been pushing for an alternative mechanism to ICC at the United Nations, which would be based on the principles of complementarity, gravity, and state consent.

India didn’t signed the Rome Statute, mainly due to following causes:

  • State sovereignty
  • National interests
  • availability of impartial prosecutors
  • Crime definition

Way Forward

India’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) is complex. As India is not a state party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, Indian citizens and officials are not subject to prosecution by the ICC. However, India has cooperated with the ICC on a voluntary basis in the past, for example by providing evidence in cases related to other countries.

There are a few ways in which India could potentially move forward in its relationship with the ICC:

  1. To boost its credibility the International Criminal Court must broaden its ambit by including more permanent members of UN and by strengthening of investigations and prosecutions.
  2. India could continue to cooperate with the ICC on a voluntary basis, particularly in cases where India’s cooperation is needed to hold individuals accountable for international crimes.
  3. India could work to improve the ICC’s effectiveness by supporting efforts to increase the representation of countries from different regions on the ICC’s governing bodies, establishing clear and transparent criteria for initiating investigations, and enhancing cooperation with national authorities.
  4. India could also support the efforts to establish a mechanism for the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by powerful countries, which would help to ensure that individuals from all countries are held accountable for international crimes.
  5. India could also work with other countries to advocate for a more inclusive and representative decision-making process in the ICC and to address the funding, mandate, and political pressure challenges the ICC faces.
  6. India could also consider engaging with civil society organizations and victims groups to ensure that the voices of victims are heard and that the ICC’s actions are responsive to the needs of victims.
  7. Nations should actively cooperate with ICC and assist International Criminal Court in defending human rights.

It’s important to note that India’s relationship with the ICC is a complex issue, and it would require a careful balancing of national and international interests, as well as a comprehensive approach to address the challenges the ICC faces.

    FAQ

    Is India a member of ICC?

    No, India, Israel, United States, Russia and china are not a member of ICC.

    What is International Criminal Court Upsc?

    International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental, international tribunal for Criminal prosecution of individuals (for action against nations there is ICJ) for four main crimes namely:-
    Genocide,
    War crimes,
    Crimes against humanity
    Crime of aggression.

    Is ICC part of UN?

    No. The International Criminal Court is an independent body it tries individuals for henious crimes within its jurisdiction without requiring mandate from the United Nations.

    Which countries are members of ICC?

    As of 2021  International Criminal Court  governing body, the Assembly of States Parties consists of 123 countries which have signed the Rome Statute: The list of Memebers is here

    Share your love

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *