Sunday, November 27, 2011


The Martens Clause was introduced into the preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention II – Laws and Customs of War on Land.[1]

The clause took its name from a declaration read by Fyodor Fyodorovich Martens,[2] the Russian delegate at the Hague Peace Conferences 1899 and was based upon his words:

Until a more complete code of the laws of war is issued, the High Contracting Parties think it right to declare that in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, populations and belligerents remain under the protection and empire of the principles of international law, as they result from the usages established between civilized nations, from the laws of humanity and the requirements of the public conscience.

Convention with respect to the laws of war on land (Hague II), 29 July 1899.[1][3]

The Clause appears in a slightly modified form in the 1907 Hague conventions:

Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, the High Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that, in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the dictates of the public conscience.

Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV), 18 October, 1907[4]

The Clause was introduced as a compromise wording for the dispute between the Great Powers who considered francs-tireurs to be unlawful combatants subject to execution on capture and smaller states who maintained that they should be considered lawful combatants.[5][6]

Rupert Ticehurst, a Lecturer in Law, at King's College School of Law in London, writes that:

The problem faced by humanitarian lawyers is that there is no accepted interpretation of the Martens Clause. It is therefore subject to a variety of interpretations, both narrow and expansive. At its most restricted, the Clause serves as a reminder that customary international law continues to apply after the adoption of a treaty norm [7]. A wider interpretation is that, as few international treaties relating to the laws of armed conflict are ever complete, the Clause provides that something which is not explicitly prohibited by a treaty is not ipso facto permitted [8]. The widest interpretation is that conduct in armed conflicts is not only judged according to treaties and custom but also to the principles of international law referred to by the Clause.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in their advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons issued on 8 July 1996, had to consider the general laws of armed conflict before they could consider the specific laws relating to nuclear weapons. Several different interpretations of this clause were presented in oral and written submissions to the ICJ. Although the ICJ advisory opinion did not provide a clear understanding of the Clause, several of submissions to the court provided an insight into its meaning.[3]

The evidence that Ticehurst presents is that just as in 1899 there was a disagreement between the great powers and the minor powers that lead to the formulation of the Clause, so in 1996 a similar divergence of views exists between the declared nuclear powers and the non nuclear powers with the nuclear powers taking a narrow view of the Clause and the non nuclear powers taking a more expansive view.[3]

Ticehurst concludes that:

... By refusing to ratify treaties or to consent to the development of corresponding customary norms, the powerful military States can control the content of the laws of armed conflict. Other States are helpless to prohibit certain technology possessed by the powerful military States. ... the Martens Clause establishes an objective means of determining natural law: the dictates of the public conscience. This makes the laws of armed conflict much richer, and permits the participation of all States in its development. The powerful military States have constantly opposed the influence of natural law on the laws of armed conflict even though these same States relied on natural law for the prosecutions at Nuremberg. The ICJ in its Advisory Opinion did not clarify the extent to which the Martens Clause permits notions of natural law to influence the development of the laws of armed conflict. Consequently, its correct interpretation remains unclear. The Opinion has, however, facilitated an important debate on this significant and frequently overlooked clause of the laws of armed conflict.[3]

Judicial review

Several national and international courts have considered the Martens Clause when making their judgements. In none of these cases however have the laws of humanity or the dictates of the public conscience been recognised as new and independent right. The clause served rather as general statement for humanitarian principles as well as guideline to the understanding and interpretation of existing rules of international law.

The Martens Clause was quoted in the following judicial rulings:

Friday, November 25, 2011


The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project (RULAC Project) is an initiative of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights to support the application and implementation of the international law of armed conflict.


Through a global database and analysis, the RULAC Project has as its aim an assessment of the implementation by states of the law applicable in armed conflicts:

The project will ultimately cover all member states of the United Nations and parties to the Geneva Conventions as well as contested territories, whether they are in situation of armed conflict or not. Indeed, certain international rules must be implemented during peacetime or are relevant in post-conflict situations, in particular those relating to the repression of international crimes. In addition, the rules regarding the fight against terrorism, also to be covered by the website, are applicable to states that are not necessarily in a situation of armed conflict.

The website is divided into three parts. The homepage offers a small description of the applicable law and addresses the main legal issues in that area, for example the legal qualification of conflicts or the applicability of international law to non-state armed groups. The website then offers for each country the relevant texts and documents dealing with the national and international legal framework (national legislation and case law, resolutions of intergovernmental organizations, treaty, etc.). Finally, the website offers a legal analysis that, on one hand, qualifies the conflict under international humanitarian law and on the other hand, determines the applicable law. This part of the website, certainly the most delicate in juridical and political terms, is particular to the RULAC Project.

The RULAC Project should prove to be a precious source of information for government officials, journalists and more widely for any person interested by the respect of the law in war.


International humanitarian law (IHL), often referred to as the laws of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict, is the legal corpus that comprises "the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, as well as subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law."[1] It defines the conduct and responsibilities of belligerent nations, neutral nations and individuals engaged in warfare, in relation to each other and to protected persons, usually meaning civilians.

The law is mandatory for nations bound by the appropriate treaties. There are also other customary unwritten rules of war, many of which were explored at the Nuremberg War Trials. By extension, they also define both the permissive rights of these powers as well as prohibitions on their conduct when dealing with irregular forces and non-signatories.

Two Historical Streams: The Law of Geneva and The Law of The Hague

Modern International Humanitarian Law is made up of two historical streams: the law of The Hague referred to in the past as the law of war proper and the law of Geneva or humanitarian law.[2] The two streams take their names from a number of international conferences which drew up treaties relating to war and conflict, in particular the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and the Geneva Conventions, the first which was drawn up in 1863. Both are branches of jus in bello, international law regarding acceptable practices while engaged in war and armed conflict.[3]

The Law of The Hague, or the Laws of War proper,"determines the rights and duties of belligerents in the conduct of operations and limits the choice of means in doing harm." [4] In particular, it concerns itself with the definition of combatants, establishes rules relating to the means and methods of warfare, and examines the issue of military objectives.[5]

Systematic attempts to limit the savagery of warfare only began to develop in the 19th century. Such concerns were able to build on the changing view of warfare by states influenced by the Age of Enlightenment. The purpose of warfare was to overcome the enemy state and this was obtainable by disabling the enemy combatants. Thus, "(t)he distinction between combatants and civilians, the requirement that wounded and captured enemy combatants must be treated humanely, and that quarter must be given, some of the pillars of modern humanitarian law, all follow from this principle."[6]

The Law of Geneva

The massacre of civilians in the midst of armed conflict has a long and dark history. Selected examples include: Moses, speaking for the god of the Israelites, ordering the killing of all the Midianite women and male children;[7] the massacres of the Kalingas by Ashoka in India, the massacre of some 100,000 Hindus by the Muslim troops of Timur (Tamerlane) or the Crusader massacres of Jews and Muslims in the Siege of Jerusalem (1099), to name a few examples drawn from a long list in history. Fritz Munch sums up historical military practice before 1800: "The essential points seem to be these: In battle and in towns taken by force, combatants and non-combatants were killed and property was destroyed or looted.[8] In the 17th century, the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius wrote "Wars, for the attainment of their objects, it cannot be denied, must employ force and terror as their most proper agents."[9]

Humanitarian Norms in History

However, even in the midst of the carnage of history, there were expressions of humanitarian norms to protect the victims of armed conflicts, i.e. the wounded, the sick and the shipwrecked which date back to ancient times.[10]

In the Old Testament, the King of Israel prevents the slaying of the captured following the prophet, Elisha's admonition, to spare enemy prisoners: In answer to a question from the King, he said, "You shall not slay them. Would you slay those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.”[11]

In ancient India there are records, for example the Laws of Manu, describing the types of weapons that should not be used. "When he fights with his foes in battle, let him not strike with weapons concealed (in wood), nor with (such as are) barbed, poisoned, or the points of which are blazing with fire.[12] There is also the command not to strike a eunuch nor the enemy "who folds his hands in supplication....Nor one who sleeps, nor one who has lost his coat of mail, nor one who is naked, nor one who is disarmed, nor one who looks on without taking part in the fight...".[13]

Islamic law indicates that "noncombatants who did not take part in fighting such as women, children, monks and hermits, the aged, blind, and insane" were not to be molested.[14] The first Caliph, Abu Bakr, proclaimed "Do not mutilate. Do not kill little children or old men or women. Do not cut off the heads of palm trees or burn them. Do not cut down fruit trees. Do not slaughter livestock except for food."[15] Islamic jurists have held that a prisoner should not be killed as he "cannot be held responsible for mere acts of belligerency." [16] Islamic law did not spare all non-combatants. In the case of those who refused to convert to Islam or pay an alternative tax, Muslims "were allowed in principle to kill any one of them, combatants or noncombatants, provided they were not killed treacherously and with mutilation."[17]


The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war. The singular term Geneva Convention denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the first three treaties (1864, 1906, 1929), and added a fourth treaty. The articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) extensively defined the basic rights of prisoners (civil and military) during war; established protections for the wounded; and established protections for the civilians in and around a war zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 194 countries.[1] The Geneva Convention defines the rights and protections of non-combatants, thus:

Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall, at all times, be humanely treated, and shall be protected, especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion. However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.

—— Article 27, Fourth Geneva Convention (1949)

Moreover, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper — the use of weapons of war — which is the subject of the Hague Conventions (First Hague Conference, 1899; Second Hague Conference 1907), and the biochemical warfare Geneva Protocol (Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, 1929).


World War I Red Cross Poster

In 1862, Henry Dunant published his book, Memoir of Solferino, on the horrors of war.[2] His wartime experiences inspired Dunant to propose:

  1. a permanent relief agency for humanitarian aid in times of war, and
  2. a government treaty recognizing the neutrality of the agency and allowing it to provide aid in a war zone.

The former proposal led to the establishment of the Red Cross in Geneva. The latter led to the First Geneva Convention. For both of these accomplishments, Henry Dunant became corecipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.[3][4]

The ten articles of this first treaty were initially adopted on August 22, 1864 by twelve nations.[5] Clara Barton was instrumental in campaigning for the ratification of the First Geneva Convention by the United States, which eventually ratified it in 1882.[6]

The second treaty was first adopted in the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies at Sea, concluded on July 6, 1906 and specifically addressed members of the Armed Forces at sea.[7] It was continued in the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, concluded on July 27, 1929 and entered into effect on June 19, 1931.[8] Inspired by the wave of humanitarian and pacifistic enthusiasm following World War II and the outrage towards the war crimes disclosed by the Nuremberg Trials, a series of conferences were held in 1949 reaffirming, expanding and updating the prior three Geneva Conventions and adding a new elaborate Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Despite the length of these documents, they were found over time to be incomplete. In fact, the very nature of armed conflicts had changed with the beginning of the Cold War era, leading many to believe that the 1949 Geneva Conventions were addressing a largely extinct reality[9]: on the one hand, most armed conflicts had become internal, or civil wars, while on the other, most wars had become increasingly asymmetric. Moreover, modern armed conflicts were inflicting an increasingly higher toll on civilians, which brought the need to provide civilian persons and objects with tangible protections in time of combat, thus bringing a much needed update to the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. In light of these developments, two Protocols were adopted in 1977 that extended the terms of the 1949 Conventions with additional protections. In 2005, a third brief Protocol was added establishing an additional protective sign for medical services, the Red Crystal, as an alternative to the ubiquitous Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems, for those countries that find them objectionable.

The conventions and their agreements

The Geneva Conventions comprise rules that apply in times of armed conflict and seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, for example:

  • wounded or sick fighters
  • prisoners of war
  • civilians
  • medical and religious personnel


In diplomacy, the term convention does not have its common meaning as an assembly of people. Rather, it is used in diplomacy to mean an international agreement, or treaty. The first three Geneva Conventions were revised and expanded in 1949, and the fourth was added at that time.

The whole set is referred to as the "Geneva Conventions of 1949" or simply the "Geneva Convention".


The 1949 conventions have been modified with three amendment protocols:

  • Protocol I (1977) relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts
  • Protocol II (1977) relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts
  • Protocol III (2005) relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem.


The Geneva Conventions apply at times of war and armed conflict to governments who have ratified its terms. The details of applicability are spelled out in Common Articles 2 and 3. The topic of applicability has generated some controversy. When the Geneva Conventions apply, governments have surrendered some of their national sovereignty by signing these treaties.

Common Article 2 relating to International Armed Conflicts

This article states that the Geneva Conventions apply to all cases of international conflict, where at least one of the warring nations have ratified the Conventions. Primarily:

  • The Conventions apply to all cases of declared war between signatory nations. This is the original sense of applicability, which predates the 1949 version.
  • The Conventions apply to all cases of armed conflict between two or more signatory nations, even in the absence of a declaration of war. This language was added in 1949 to accommodate situations that have all the characteristics of war without the existence of a formal declaration of war, such as a police action.[10]
  • The Conventions apply to a signatory nation even if the opposing nation is not a signatory, but only if the opposing nation "accepts and applies the provisions" of the Conventions.[10]

Article 1 of Protocol I further clarifies that armed conflict against colonial domination and foreign occupation also qualifies as an international conflict.

When the criteria of international conflict have been met, the full protections of the Conventions are considered to apply.

Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict

This article states that the certain minimum rules of war apply to armed conflict that is not of an international character, but that are contained within the boundaries of a single country. The applicability of this article rests on the interpretation of the term armed conflict.[10] For example it would apply to conflicts between the Government and rebel forces, or between two rebel forces, or to other conflicts that have all the characteristics of war but that are carried out within the confines of a single country. A handful of individuals attacking a police station would not be considered an armed conflict subject to this article, but only subject to the laws of the country in question.[10]

The other Geneva Conventions are not applicable in this situation but only the provisions contained within Article 3,[10] and additionally within the language of Protocol II. The rationale for the limitation is to avoid conflict with the rights of Sovereign States that were not part of the treaties. When the provisions of this article apply, it states that:

  • Persons taking no active part in hostilities, including military persons who have ceased to be active as a result of sickness, injury, or detention, should be treated humanely.
  • The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.


Enforcement authority of the United Nations Security Council

The final international tribunal for all issues related to the Geneva Conventions and other treaties is the United Nations Security Council. As a charter, the UN Charter is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. The UN Charter's Article 25 and others[11] require that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations. The UNSC rarely invokes its authority regarding the Geneva Conventions and so most issues are resolved by regional treaties or by national law.

Protecting powers

The term protecting power has a specific meaning under these Conventions. A protecting power is a state that is not taking part in the armed conflict, but that has agreed to look after the interests of a state that is a party to the conflict. The protecting power is a mediator enabling the flow of communication between the parties to the conflict. The protecting power also monitors implementation of these Conventions, such as by visiting the zone of conflict and prisoners of war. The protecting power must act as an advocate for prisoners, the wounded, and civilians.

Grave breaches

Not all violations of the treaty are treated equally. The most serious crimes are termed grave breaches, and provide a legal definition of a war crime. Grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions include the following acts if committed against a person protected by the convention:

  • willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, including biological experiments
  • willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
  • compelling someone to serve in the forces of a hostile power
  • willfully depriving someone of the right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime.

Also considered grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention are the following:

  • taking of hostages
  • extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly
  • unlawful deportation, transfer, or confinement.[12]

Nations who are party to these treaties must enact and enforce legislation penalizing any of these crimes.[13] Nations are also obligated to search for persons alleged to commit these crimes, or ordered them to be committed, and to bring them to trial regardless of their nationality and regardless of the place where the crimes took place.

The principle of universal jurisdiction also applies to the enforcement of grave breaches when the UN Security Council asserts its authority and jurisdiction from the UN Charter to apply universal jurisdiction. The UNSC did this via the International Criminal Court when they established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to investigate and/or prosecute alleged violations.

The Geneva Conventions today

Although warfare has changed dramatically since the Geneva Conventions of 1949, they are still considered the cornerstone of contemporary International Humanitarian Law.[14] They protect combatants who find themselves hors de combat, and they protect civilians caught up in the zone of war. These treaties came into play for all recent international armed conflicts, including the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)[15], the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Chechnya (1994–present)[16], and the 2008 War in Georgia.

Modern warfare continues to evolve, and the lines between combatants and civilians have blurred.[17] (for instance, the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Sudanese Civil War, and the Colombian Armed Conflict). Common Article 3 deals with these situations, supplemented by Protocol II (1977). These set out minimum legal standards that must be followed for internal conflicts. International tribunals, particularly the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, have helped to clarify international law in this area.[18] In the 1999 Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadic judgement, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ruled that grave breaches apply not only to international conflicts, but also to internal armed conflict.[dubious ] Further, those provisions are considered customary international law, allowing war crimes prosecution by the United Nations and its International Court of Justice over groups that have signed and have not signed the Geneva Conventions.


War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict (also known as international humanitarian law) giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. Examples of such conduct include "murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps", "the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war", the killing of prisoners, "the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity".[1]

Similar concepts, such as perfidy, have existed for many centuries as customs between civilized countries, but these customs were first codified as international law in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The modern concept of a war crime was further developed under the auspices of the Nuremberg Trials based on the definition in the London Charter that was published on August 8, 1945. (Also see Nuremberg Principles.) Along with war crimes the charter also defined crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, which are often committed during wars and in concert with war crimes.

Article 22 of the Hague IV ("Laws of War: Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907") states that "The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited"[2] and over the last century many other treaties have introduced positive laws that place constraints on belligerents (see International treaties on the laws of war). Some of the provisions, such as those in the Hague, the Geneva, and Genocide Conventions, are considered to be part of customary international law, and are binding on all.[3][4] Others are only binding on individuals if the belligerent power to which they belong is a party to the treaty which introduced the constraint.


Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape; political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."[1]

The International Criminal Court (French: Cour pénale internationale; commonly referred to as the ICC or ICCt)[1] is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although it cannot currently and will in no way before 2017[2] be able to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression).[3][4]

It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force[5]—and it can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date.[6] The Court's official seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.[7]

As of November 2011, 117 states are states parties to the Statute of the Court, including all of South America, nearly all of Europe and roughly half the countries in Africa.[8] The Statute will enter into force for its 118th state party, the Maldives, on 1 December 2011, and its 119th, Cape Verde, on 1 January 2012.[9][10] A further 32 countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute[8]; one of them, Côte d'Ivoire, has accepted the Court's jurisdiction.[11] The law of treaties obliges these states to refrain from “acts which would defeat the object and purpose” of the treaty.[12] Three of these states—Israel, Sudan and the United States—have "unsigned" the Rome Statute, indicating that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, they have no legal obligations arising from their former representatives' signature of the Statute.[8][13] 43 United Nations member states have neither signed nor ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute; some of them, including China and India, are critical of the Court.[14][15] The Palestinian National Authority, which neither is nor represents a United Nations member state, has formally accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.[16] It is unclear, however, if this acceptance is legally valid.[17]

In June 2010, two amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court were adopted by the Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda. The first amendment criminalizes the use of certain kinds of weapons in non-international conflicts whose use was already forbidden in international conflicts.[18] It has been ratified by one state party, San Marino, and will enter into force for it on 26 September 2012.[19] The second amendment specifies the crime of aggression.[2] It has not yet been ratified by any state party.[20] The Court will have jurisdiction for the crime of aggression only for crimes committed after the entry into force for the 30th state party and only after the Assembly of States Parties has voted in favour of that after 1 January 2017.

The Court can generally exercise jurisdiction only in cases where the accused is a national of a state party, the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or a situation is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.[21] It is designed to complement existing national judicial systems: it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.[22][23] Primary responsibility to investigate and punish crimes is therefore left to individual states.[24]

To date, the Court has opened investigations into seven situations: the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; the Central African Republic; Darfur, Sudan; the Republic of Kenya; the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire.[25][26] Of these seven, three were referred to the Court by the states parties (Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic), two were referred by the United Nations Security Council (Darfur and Libya) and two were begun proprio motu by the Prosecutor (Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire).

It publicly indicted 26 people, proceedings against 23 of whom are ongoing. The ICC has issued arrest warrants for 17 individuals and summonses to nine others. Five individuals are in custody and are being tried while eight individuals remain at large as fugitives (although one is reported to have died). Additionally, two individuals have been arrested by national authorities, but have not yet been transferred to the Court. Proceedings against three individuals have finished following the death of two and the dismissal of charges against the other.

As of October 2011, the Lubanga trial regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been concluded with the judgment pending. Two trials against three people are ongoing: the Katanga-Chui trial regarding the DR Congo and the Bemba trial regarding the Central African Republic. A fourth trial, the Banda-Jerbo trial in the situation of Darfur, Sudan, is anticipated to begin in 2012.[27] Three confirmation of charges hearings, two against the so called "Ocampo Six" in the situation of Kenya (Ruto et al. and Muthaura et al.) and one in the Mbarushimana case in the situation of the DR Congo, have concluded with the confirmation of charges pending.


The establishment of an international tribunal to judge political leaders accused of war crimes was first made during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 by the Commission of Responsibilities. The issue was addressed again at conference held in Geneva under the auspices of the League of Nations on 1–16 November 1937, but no practical results followed. The United Nations states that the General Assembly first recognised the need for a permanent international court to deal with atrocities of the kind committed during World War II in 1948, following the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals.[4] At the request of the General Assembly, the International Law Commission drafted two statutes by the early 1950s but these were shelved as the Cold War made the establishment of an international criminal court politically unrealistic.[28]

Benjamin B. Ferencz, an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, one of the twelve military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg, later became a vocal advocate of the establishment of an international rule of law and of an International Criminal Court. In his first book published in 1975, entitled Defining International Aggression-The Search for World Peace, he argued for the establishment of such an international court.[29]

The idea was revived in 1989 when A. N. R. Robinson, then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, proposed the creation of a permanent international court to deal with the illegal drug trade.[28][30] While work began on a draft statute, the international community established ad hoc tribunals to try war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, established in 1994, further highlighting the need for a permanent international criminal court.[31]

Following years of negotiations, the General Assembly convened a conference in Rome in June 1998, with the aim of finalizing a treaty. On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted by a vote of 120 to 7, with 21 countries abstaining. The seven countries that voted against the treaty were China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, United States, and Yemen.[32]

The Rome Statute became a binding treaty on 11 April 2002, when the number of countries that had ratified it reached sixty.[5] The Statute legally came into force on 1 July 2002,[5] and the ICC can only prosecute crimes committed after that date.[6] The first bench of 18 judges was elected by an Assembly of States Parties in February 2003. They were sworn in at the inaugural session of the Court on 11 March 2003.[33] The Court issued its first arrest warrants on 8 July 2005,[34] and the first pre-trial hearings were held in 2006.[35]

During a Review Conference of the International Criminal Court Statute in Kampala, Uganda, two amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court were adopted on June 10 and June 11, 2010. The second amendment concerns the definition of the crime of aggression.


As of November 2011, 117 states are states parties to the Statute of the Court, including all of South America, nearly all of Europe and roughly half the countries in Africa.[8] The Statute will enter into force for its 118th state party, the Maldives, on 1 December 2011, and its 119th, Cape Verde, on 1 January 2012.[9][10] A further 32 countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute[8]; one of them, Côte d'Ivoire, has accepted the Court's jurisdiction.[11] The law of treaties obliges these states to refrain from “acts which would defeat the object and purpose” of the treaty.[12] Three of these states—Israel, Sudan and the United States—have "unsigned" the Rome Statute, indicating that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, they have no legal obligations arising from their former representatives' signature of the Statute.[8][13] 43 United Nations member states have neither signed nor ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute; some of them, including China and India, are critical of the Court.[14][15] The Palestinian National Authority, which neither is nor represents a United Nations member state, has formally accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.[16] It is unclear, however, if this acceptance is legally valid.[17]


Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court

Article 5 of the Rome Statute grants the Court jurisdiction over four groups of crimes, which it refers to as the "most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole": the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The Statute defines each of these crimes except for aggression.[3] The crime of genocide is unique because the crime must be committed with 'intent to destroy'. Crimes against humanity are specifically listed prohibited acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.[36] The Statute provides that the Court will not exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression until such time as the states parties agree on a definition of the crime and set out the conditions under which it may be prosecuted.[3][4]

In June 2010, the ICC's first review conference in Kampala, Uganda adopted amendments defining "crimes of aggression" and expanding the ICC's jurisdiction over them. The ICC will not be allowed to prosecute for this crime until at least 2017.[37] Furthermore, it expanded the term of war crimes for the use of certain weapons in an armed conflict not of an international character.

Many states wanted to add terrorism and drug trafficking to the list of crimes covered by the Rome Statute; however, the states were unable to agree on a definition for terrorism and it was decided not to include drug trafficking as this might overwhelm the Court's limited resources.[4] India lobbied to have the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction included as war crimes but this move was also defeated.[38] India has expressed concern that "the Statute of the ICC lays down, by clear implication, that the use of weapons of mass destruction is not a war crime. This is an extraordinary message to send to the international community."[38]

Some commentators have argued that the Rome Statute defines crimes too broadly or too vaguely. For example, China has argued that the definition of 'war crimes' goes beyond that accepted under customary international law.[39]

Territorial jurisdiction

During the negotiations that led to the Rome Statute, a large number of states argued that the Court should be allowed to exercise universal jurisdiction. However, this proposal was defeated due in large part to opposition from the United States.[40] A compromise was reached, allowing the Court to exercise jurisdiction only under the following limited circumstances:

  • where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person's state has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court);
  • where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court); or
  • where a situation is referred to the Court by the UN Security Council.[21]

Temporal jurisdiction

The Court's jurisdiction does not apply retroactively: it can only prosecute crimes committed on or after 1 July 2002 (the date on which the Rome Statute entered into force). Where a state becomes party to the Rome Statute after that date, the Court can exercise jurisdiction automatically with respect to crimes committed after the Statute enters into force for that state.[6]


The ICC is intended as a court of last resort, investigating and prosecuting only where national courts have failed. Article 17 of the Statute provides that a case is inadmissible if:

"(a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;

(b) The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute;

(c) The person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under article 20, paragraph 3;

(d) The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court."[22]

Article 20, paragraph 3, specifies that, if a person has already been tried by another court, the ICC cannot try them again for the same conduct unless the proceedings in the other court:

"(a) Were for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court; or (b) Otherwise were not conducted independently or impartially in accordance with the norms of due process recognized by international law and were conducted in a manner which, in the circumstances, was inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice."[23]


The ICC is governed by an Assembly of States Parties.[41] The Court consists of four organs: the Presidency, the Judicial Divisions, the Office of the Prosecutor, and the Registry.[42]

Assembly of States Parties

The Court's management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.[43] Each state party has one vote and "every effort" has to be made to reach decisions by consensus.[43] If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote.[43] The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.

The Assembly meets in full session once a year in New York or The Hague, and may also hold special sessions where circumstances require.[43] Sessions are open to observer states and non-governmental organisations.[44]

The Assembly elects the judges and prosecutors, decides the Court's budget, adopts important texts (such as the Rules of Procedure and Evidence), and provides management oversight to the other organs of the Court.[41][43] Article 46 of the Rome Statute allows the Assembly to remove from office a judge or prosecutor who "is found to have committed serious misconduct or a serious breach of his or her duties" or "is unable to exercise the functions required by this Statute".[45]

The states parties cannot interfere with the judicial functions of the Court.[46] Disputes concerning individual cases are settled by the Judicial Divisions.[46]

At the seventh session of the Assembly of States Parties in November 2008, the Assembly decided that the Review Conference of the Rome Statute shall be held in Kampala, Uganda, during the first semester of 2010.[47]

[edit] Presidency

The Presidency is responsible for the proper administration of the Court (apart from the Office of the Prosecutor).[48] It comprises the President and the First and Second Vice-Presidents—three judges of the Court who are elected to the Presidency by their fellow judges for a maximum of two three-year terms.[49] The current President is Sang-Hyun Song, who was elected on 11 March 2009.[50]

Judicial Divisions

The Judicial Divisions consist of the 18 judges of the Court, organized into three chambers—the Pre-Trial Chamber, Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber—which carry out the judicial functions of the Court.[51] Judges are elected to the Court by the Assembly of States Parties.[51] They serve nine-year terms and are not generally eligible for re-election.[51] All judges must be nationals of states parties to the Rome Statute, and no two judges may be nationals of the same state.[52] They must be “persons of high moral character, impartiality and integrity who possess the qualifications required in their respective States for appointment to the highest judicial offices”.[52]

The Prosecutor or any person being investigated or prosecuted may request the disqualification of a judge from "any case in which his or her impartiality might reasonably be doubted on any ground".[53] Any request for the disqualification of a judge from a particular case is decided by an absolute majority of the other judges.[53] A judge may be removed from office if he or she "is found to have committed serious misconduct or a serious breach of his or her duties" or is unable to exercise his or her functions.[45] The removal of a judge requires both a two-thirds majority of the other judges and a two-thirds majority of the states parties.[45]

Office of the Prosecutor

The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for conducting investigations and prosecutions.[24] It is headed by the Chief Prosecutor, who is assisted by one or more Deputy Prosecutors.[42] The Rome Statute provides that the Office of the Prosecutor shall act independently;[54] as such, no member of the Office may seek or act on instructions from any external source, such as states, international organisations, non-governmental organisations or individuals.[24]

The Prosecutor may open an investigation under three circumstances:[24]

  • when a situation is referred to him by a state party;
  • when a situation is referred to him by the United Nations Security Council, acting to address a threat to international peace and security; or
  • when the Pre-Trial Chamber authorises him to open an investigation on the basis of information received from other sources, such as individuals or non-governmental organisations.

Any person being investigated or prosecuted may request the disqualification of a prosecutor from any case "in which their impartiality might reasonably be doubted on any ground".[54] Requests for the disqualification of prosecutors are decided by the Appeals Chamber.[54] A prosecutor may be removed from office by an absolute majority of the states parties if he or she "is found to have committed serious misconduct or a serious breach of his or her duties" or is unable to exercise his or her functions.[45] However, critics of the Court argue that there are “insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges” and “insufficient protection against politicized prosecutions or other abuses”.[55] Henry Kissinger says the checks and balances are so weak that the prosecutor “has virtually unlimited discretion in practice”.[56]

As of 16 June 2003, the Prosecutor has been Luis Moreno Ocampo of Argentina, who was elected by the Assembly of States Parties on 21 April 2003[57] for a term of nine years.[24]

The election of the next prosecutor is scheduled for the session of the Assembly of States Parties to be held from 12 to 21 December 2011.[58] A search committee for the position has been established, and is accepting nominations during the period from 13 June to 2 September 2011. Although the names of nominees are confidential for the time being, updates on the work of the search committee have been published on the web.[59]

[edit] Registry

The Registry is responsible for the non-judicial aspects of the administration and servicing of the Court.[60] This includes, among other things, “the administration of legal aid matters, court management, victims and witnesses matters, defence counsel, detention unit, and the traditional services provided by administrations in international organisations, such as finance, translation, building management, procurement and personnel”.[60] The Registry is headed by the Registrar, who is elected by the judges to a five-year term.[42] The current Registrar is Silvana Arbia, who was elected on 28 February 2009.

Headquarters, offices and detention unit

The official seat of the Court is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.[7][61] The Court is currently housed in interim premises on the eastern edge of The Hague.[62] The Court intends to construct permanent premises in the Alexanderkazerne, to the north of The Hague.[62][63]

The ICC also maintains a liaison office in New York[64] and field offices in places where it conducts its activities.[65] As of 18 October 2007, the Court had field offices in Kampala, Kinshasa, Bunia, Abéché and Bangui.[65]

The ICC's detention centre comprises twelve cells on the premises of the Scheveningen branch of the Haaglanden Penal Institution, The Hague.[66] Suspects held by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are held in the same prison and share some facilities, like the fitness room, but have no contact with suspects held by the ICC.[66] The detention unit is close to the ICC's future headquarters in the Alexanderkazerne.[67]

As of February 2011, the detention centre houses six suspects: Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Callixte Mbarushimana and also former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor is being tried under the mandate and auspices of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, but his trial is being held at the ICC's facilities in The Hague because of political and security concerns about holding the trial in Freetown.[68][69]

The ICC does not have its own witness protection program, but rather must rely on national programs to keep witnesses safe.[70]

[edit] Procedure

Rights of the accused

The Rome Statute provides that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt,[71] and establishes certain rights of the accused and persons during investigations.[72] These include the right to be fully informed of the charges against him or her; the right to have a lawyer appointed, free of charge; the right to a speedy trial; and the right to examine the witnesses against him or her and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf.

Some argue that the protections offered by the ICC are insufficient. According to one conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, "Americans who appear before the court would be denied such basic constitutional rights as trial by a jury of one's peers, protection from double jeopardy, and the right to confront one's accusers."[73] The Human Rights Watch argues that the ICC standards are sufficient, saying, “the ICC has one of the most extensive lists of due process guarantees ever written”, including "presumption of innocence; right to counsel; right to present evidence and to confront witnesses; right to remain silent; right to be present at trial; right to have charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt; and protection against double jeopardy".[74] According to David Scheffer, who led the US delegation to the Rome Conference (and who voted against adoption of the treaty), "when we were negotiating the Rome treaty, we always kept very close tabs on, 'Does this meet U.S. constitutional tests, the formation of this court and the due process rights that are accorded defendants?' And we were very confident at the end of Rome that those due process rights, in fact, are protected, and that this treaty does meet a constitutional test."[75]

To ensure "equality of arms" between defence and prosecution teams, the ICC has established an independent Office of Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD) to provide logistical support, advice and information to defendants and their counsel.[76][77] The OPCD also helps to safeguard the rights of the accused during the initial stages of an investigation.[78] However, Thomas Lubanga's defence team say they have been given a smaller budget than the Prosecutor and that evidence and witness statements have been slow to arrive.[79]

Victim participation and reparations

One of the great innovations of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence is the series of rights granted to victims.[80][81] For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims have the possibility under the Statute to present their views and observations before the Court.

Participation before the Court may occur at various stages of proceedings and may take different forms, although it will be up to the judges to give directions as to the timing and manner of participation.

Participation in the Court's proceedings will in most cases take place through a legal representative and will be conducted "in a manner which is not prejudicial or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial".

The victim-based provisions within the Rome Statute provide victims with the opportunity to have their voices heard and to obtain, where appropriate, some form of reparation for their suffering. It is this balance between retributive and restorative justice that will enable the ICC, not only to bring criminals to justice but also to help the victims themselves obtain justice.

Article 43(6) establishes a Victims and Witnesses Unit to provide "protective measures and security arrangements, counseling and other appropriate assistance for witnesses, victims who appear before the Court, and others who are at risk on account of testimony given by such witnesses."[82] Article 68 sets out procedures for the "Protection of the victims and witnesses and their participation in the proceedings."[83] The Court has also established an Office of Public Counsel for Victims, to provide support and assistance to victims and their legal representatives.[84] Article 79 of the Rome Statute establishes a Trust Fund to make financial reparations to victims and their families.[85]

The Rome Statute contains provisions which enable victims to participate in all stages of the proceedings before the Court.

Hence victims may file submissions before the Pre-Trial Chamber when the Prosecutor requests its authorisation to investigate. They may also file submissions on all matters relating to the competence of the Court or the admissibility of cases.

More generally, victims are entitled to file submissions before the Court chambers at the pre-trial stage, during the proceedings or at the appeal stage.

The rules of procedure and evidence stipulate the time for victim participation in proceedings before the Court. They must send a written application to the Court Registrar and more precisely to the Victims' Participation and Reparation Section, which must submit the application to the competent Chamber which decides on the arrangements for the victims' participation in the proceedings. The Chamber may reject the application if it considers that the person is not a victim. Individuals who wish to make applications to participate in proceedings before the Court must therefore provide evidence proving they are victims of crimes which come under the competence of the Court in the proceedings commenced before it. The Section prepared standard forms and a booklet to make it easier for victims to file their petition to participate in the proceedings.

It should be stipulated that a petition may be made by a person acting with the consent of the victim, or in their name when the victim is a child or if any disability makes this necessary.

Victims are free to choose their legal representative who must be equally as qualified as the counsel for the defence (this may be a lawyer or person with experience as a judge or prosecutor) and be fluent in one of the Court's two working languages (English or French).

To ensure efficient proceedings, particularly in cases with many victims, the competent Chamber may ask victims to choose a shared legal representative. If the victims are unable to appoint one, the Chamber may ask the Registrar to appoint one or more shared legal representatives. The Victims' Participation and Reparation Section is responsible for assisting victims with the organisation of their legal representation before the Court. When a victim or a group of victims does not have the means to pay for a shared legal representative appointed by the Court, they may request financial aid from the Court to pay counsel. Counsel may participate in the proceedings before the Court by filing submissions and attending the hearings.

The Registry, and within it the Victims' Participation and Reparation Section, has many obligations with regard to notification of the proceedings to the victims to keep them fully informed of progress. Thus, it is stipulated that the Section must notify victims, who have communicated with the Court in a given case or situation, of any decisions by the Prosecutor not to open an investigation or not to commence a prosecution, so that these victims can file submissions before the Pre-Trial Chamber responsible for checking the decisions taken by the Prosecutor under the conditions laid down in the Statute. The same notification is required before the confirmation hearing in the Pre-Trial Chamber to allow the victims to file all the submissions they require. All decisions taken by the Court are then notified to the victims who participated in the proceedings or to their counsel. The Victims' Participation and Reparation Section has wide discretion to use all possible means to give adequate publicity to the proceedings before the Court (local media, requests for co-operation sent to Governments, aid requested from NGOs or other means).

Reparation for victims

For the first time in the history of humanity, an international court has the power to order an individual to pay reparation to another individual; it is also the first time that an international criminal court has had such power.

Pursuant to article 75, the Court may lay down the principles for reparation for victims, which may include restitution, indemnification and rehabilitation. On this point, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has benefited from all the work carried out with regard to victims, in particular within the United Nations.

The Court must also enter an order against a convicted person stating the appropriate reparation for the victims or their beneficiaries. This reparation may also take the form of restitution, indemnification or rehabilitation. The Court may order this reparation to be paid through the Trust Fund for Victims, which was set up by the Assembly of States Parties in September 2002.

To be able to apply for reparation, victims have to file a written application with the Registry, which must contain the evidence laid down in Rule 94 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The Victims' Participation and Reparation Section prepared standard forms to make this easier for victims.[86] They may also apply for protective measures for the purposes of confiscating property from the persons prosecuted.

The Victims' Participation and Reparation Section is responsible for giving all appropriate publicity to these reparation proceedings to enable victims to make their applications. These proceedings take place after the person prosecuted has been declared guilty of the alleged facts.

The Court has the option of granting individual or collective reparation, concerning a whole group of victims or a community, or both. If the Court decides to order collective reparation, it may order that reparation to be made through the Victims' Fund and the reparation may then also be paid to an inter-governmental, international or national organisation.

[edit] Co-operation by states not party to Rome Statute

One of the principles of international law is that a treaty does not create either obligations or rights for third states (pacta tertiis nec nocent nec prosunt) without their consent, and this is also enshrined in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.[87] The co-operation of the non-party states with the ICC is envisioned by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to be of voluntary nature.[88] However, even states that have not acceded to the Rome Statute might still be subjects to an obligation to co-operate with ICC in certain cases.[89] When a case is referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council all UN member states are obliged to co-operate, since its decisions are binding for all of them.[90] Also, there is an obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, which stems from the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I,[91] which reflects the absolute nature of IHL.[92] Although the wording of the Conventions might not be precise as to what steps have to be taken, it has been argued that it at least requires non-party states to make an effort not to block actions of ICC in response to serious violations of those Conventions.[89] In relation to co-operation in investigation and evidence gathering, it is implied from the Rome Statute[93] that the consent of a non-party state is a prerequisite for ICC Prosecutor to conduct an investigation within its territory, and it seems that it is even more necessary for him to observe any reasonable conditions raised by that state, since such restrictions exist for states party to the Statute.[89] Taking into account the experience of the ICTY (which worked with the principle of the primacy, instead of complementarity) in relation to co-operation, some scholars have expressed their pessimism as to the possibility of ICC to obtain co-operation of non-party states.[89] As for the actions that ICC can take towards non-party states that do not co-operate, the Rome Statute stipulates that the Court may inform the Assembly of States Parties or Security Council, when the matter was referred by it, when non-party state refuses to co-operate after it has entered into an ad hoc arrangement or an agreement with the Court.[94]

[edit] Amnesties and national reconciliation processes

It is unclear to what extent the ICC is compatible with reconciliation processes that grant amnesty to human rights abusers as part of agreements to end conflict.[95] Article 16 of the Rome Statute allows the Security Council to prevent the Court from investigating or prosecuting a case,[96] and Article 53 allows the Prosecutor the discretion not to initiate an investigation if he or she believes that “an investigation would not serve the interests of justice”.[97] Former ICC President Philippe Kirsch has said that "some limited amnesties may be compatible" with a country's obligations genuinely to investigate or prosecute under the Statute.[95]

It is sometimes argued that amnesties are necessary to allow the peaceful transfer of power from abusive regimes. By denying states the right to offer amnesty to human rights abusers, the International Criminal Court may make it more difficult to negotiate an end to conflict and a transition to democracy. For example, the outstanding arrest warrants for four leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army are regarded by some as an obstacle to ending the insurgency in Uganda.[98][99] Czech politician Marek Benda argues that "the ICC as a deterrent will in our view only mean the worst dictators will try to retain power at all costs".[100] However, the United Nations[101] and the International Committee of the Red Cross[102] maintain that granting amnesty to those accused of war crimes and other serious crimes is a violation of international law.

Relationship with the United Nations

The UN Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC

Unlike the International Court of Justice, the ICC is legally and functionally independent from the United Nations. However, the Rome Statute grants certain powers to the United Nations Security Council. Article 13 allows the Security Council to refer to the Court situations that would not otherwise fall under the Court's jurisdiction (as it did in relation to the situations in Darfur and Libya, which the Court could not otherwise have prosecuted as neither Sudan nor Libya are state parties). Article 16 allows the Security Council to require the Court to defer from investigating a case for a period of 12 months.[96] Such a deferral may be renewed indefinitely by the Security Council. This sort of an arrangement gives the ICC some of the advantages inhering in the organs of the United Nations such as using the enforcement powers of the Security Council but it also creates a risk of being tainted with the political controversies of the Security Council.[103]

The Court cooperates with the UN in many different areas, including the exchange of information and logistical support.[104] The Court reports to the UN each year on its activities,[104][105] and some meetings of the Assembly of States Parties are held at UN facilities. The relationship between the Court and the UN is governed by a “Relationship Agreement between the International Criminal Court and the United Nations”.[106][107]

Relationship with Nongovernmental Organizations

During the 1970s and 1980s, international human rights and humanitarian Nongovernmental Organizations (or NGOs) began to proliferate at exponential rates. Concurrently, the quest to find a way to punish international crimes shifted from being the exclusive responsibility of legal experts to being shared with international human rights activism.

NGOs helped birth the ICC through advocacy and championing for the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity. NGOs closely monitor the organization's declarations and actions, ensuring that the work that is being executed on behalf of the ICC is fulfilling its objectives and responsibilities to civil society.[108] According to Benjamin Schiff, "From the Statute Conference onward, the relationship between the ICC and the NGOs has probably been closer, more consistent, and more vital to the Court than have analogous relations between NGOs and any other international organization."

There are a number of NGOs working on a variety of issues related to the ICC. The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court has served as a sort of umbrella for NGOs to coordinate with each other on similar objectives related to the ICC. The CICC has 2,500 member organizations in 150 different countries.[109] The original steering committee included representatives from the World Federalist Movement, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and No Peace Without Justice.[108] Today, many of the NGOs with which the ICC cooperates are members of the CICC. These organizations come from a range of backgrounds, spanning from major international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to smaller, more local organizations focused on peace and justice missions.[108] Many work closely with states, such as the International Criminal Law Network, founded and predominantly funded by The Hague municipality and the Dutch Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. The CICC also claims organizations that are themselves federations, such as the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH).

CICC members ascribe to three principles that permit them to work under the umbrella of the CICC, so long as their objectives match them:

  • Promoting worldwide ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC
  • Maintaining the integrity of the Rome Statute of the ICC, and
  • Ensuring the ICC will be as fair, effective and independent as possible [109]

The NGOs that work under the CICC do not normally pursue agendas exclusive to the work of the Court, rather they may work for broader causes, such as general human rights issues, victims' rights, gender rights, rule of law, conflict mediation, and peace.[108] The CICC coordinates their efforts to improve the efficiency of NGOs' contributions to the Court and to pool their influence on major common issues. From the ICC side, it has been useful to have the CICC channel NGO contacts with the Court so that its officials do not have to interact individually with thousands of separate organizations.

NGOs have been crucial to the evolution of the ICC, as they assisted in the creation of the normative climate that urged states to seriously consider the Court's formation. Their legal experts helped shape the Statute, while their lobbying efforts built support for it. They advocate Statute ratification globally and work at expert and political levels within member states for passage of necessary domestic legislation. NGOs are greatly represented at meetings for the Assembly of States Parties and they use the ASP meetings to press for decisions promoting their priorities.[108] Many of these NGOs have reasonable access to important officials at the ICC because of their involvement during the Statute process. They are engaged in monitoring, commenting upon, and assisting in the ICC's activities.

The ICC many time depends on NGOs to interact with local populations. The Registry Public Information Office personnel and Victims Participation and Reparations Section officials hold seminars for local leaders, professionals and the media to spread the word about the Court.[108] These are the kinds of events that are often hosted or organized by local NGOs. Because there can be challenges with determining which of these NGOs are legitimate, CICC regional representatives oftentimes have the ability to help screen and identify trustworthy organizations.

However, NGOs are also "sources of criticism, exhortation and pressure upon" the ICC.[108] The ICC heavily depends on NGOs for its operations. Although NGOs and states cannot directly impact the judicial nucleus of the organization, they can impart information on crimes, can help locate victims and witnesses, and can promote and organize victim participation. NGOs outwardly comment on the Court's operations, "push for expansion of its activities especially in the new justice areas of outreach in conflict areas, in victims' participation and reparations, an in upholding due-process standards and defense 'equality of arms' and so implicitly set an agenda for the future evolution of the ICC." [108] The relatively uninterrupted progression of NGO involvement with the ICC may mean that NGOs have become repositories of more institutional historical knowledge about the ICC than have national representatives to it and have greater expertise than some of the organization's employees themselves. While NGOs look to mold the ICC to satisfy the interests and priorities that they have worked for since the early 1990s, they unavoidably press against the limits imposed upon the ICC by the states that are members of the organization. NGOs can pursue their own mandates, irrespective of whether they are compatible with those of other NGOs, while the ICC must respond to the complexities of its own mandate as well as those of the states and NGOs.

Another issue has been that NGOs possess ""exaggerated senses of their ownership over the organization and, having been vital to and successful in promoting the Court, were not managing to redefine their roles to permit the Court its necessary independence." [108] Additionally, because there does exist such a gap between the large human rights organizations and the smaller peace-oriented organizations, it is difficult for ICC officials to manage and gratify all of their NGOs. "ICC officials recognize that the NGOs pursue their own agendas, and that they will seek to pressure the ICC in the direction of their own priorities rather than necessarily understanding or being fully sympathetic to the myriad constraints and pressures under which the Court operates." [108] Both the ICC and the NGO community avoid criticizing each other publicly or vehemently, although NGOs have released advisory and cautionary messages regarding the ICC. They avoid taking stances that could potentially give the Court's adversaries, particularly the US, more motive to berate the organization.


Contributions to the ICC's budget, 2008

The ICC is financed by contributions from the states parties. The amount payable by each state party is determined using the same method as the United Nations:[110] each state's contribution is based on the country’s capacity to pay, which reflects factors such as a national income and population. The maximum amount a single country can pay in any year is limited to 22% of the Court's budget; Japan paid this amount in 2008.

The Court spent 80.5 million in 2007,[111] and the Assembly of States Parties has approved a budget of €90,382,100 for 2008[110] and €101,229,900 for 2009.[112] As of September 2008, the ICC’s staff consisted of 571 persons from 83 states.[113]