International Criminal Justice Day – July 17

Today is International Criminal Justice Day. The Assembly of the States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC) adopted this date during the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala, Uganda in June 2010. It marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, the treaty that founded the ICC. The treaty also defines the types of international crimes that individuals can be charged with committing: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the recently defined crime of aggression. The day aims to promote awareness and to generate support for global justice and the fight against impunity.

Resolutions and Declarations adopted by the Review Conference – RC/Decl.1
Kampala Declaration
adopted by consensus

Decide to henceforth celebrate 17 July, the day of the adoption of the Rome Statute
in 1998, as the Day of International Criminal Justice.

About the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court was established in 2002, when the Rome Statute entered into force. It became the first “permanent, treaty based, international criminal court.” States that ratify the Rome Statute consent to its mandatory jurisdiction and are participants as State Parties at the Review Conferences. Non-party states may cooperate voluntarily with the Court. Limited exceptions grant the Court jurisdiction over individuals in non-party states. For example, the UN Security Council can refer situations to the ICC. Such a referral is binding upon all UN member states to cooperate with ICC, including cooperation with the investigation, evidence gathering, and the enforcement of arrest warrants. An important distinguishing feature of the Court is that the ICC prosecutes individuals, not governments or organizations.

The Court has two official languages, English and French. The Court is known in French as La Cour Pénale Internationale (CPI). It is located in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Court operates as an independent international organization with a negotiated relationship with the United Nations. Its facility provides detention cells for the accused and a waiting area for witnesses.

As of July 17, 2011, 116 countries are parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: 32 African states, 15 Asian states; 18 Eastern Europe states; 36 Latin American and Caribbean states; and 25 Western Europe and other states. The United States is not a party.

Situations and Current Cases Before the International Criminal Court

Rome Statute – Article 13

Exercise of jurisdiction

The Court may exercise its jurisdiction with respect to a crime referred to in article 5 in accordance with the provisions of this Statute if:

(a) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been
committed is referred to the Prosecutor by a State Party in accordance with
article 14;

(b) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been
committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under
Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; or

(c) The Prosecutor has initiated an investigation in respect of such a crime in
accordance with article 15.

Referral of a Situation by a State Party (Article 14)

  • Uganda – Government referred a situation involving members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and occurring within its territories to the Court. One case is before Pre-Trial Chamber II. Four suspects remain at large.
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo – Government referred a situation occurring within its territories, especially in Ituri, to the Court. Four individuals are in custody. One suspect, Bosco Ntaganda, remains at large. Two cases are at the pre-trial stage. Two cases are at the trial stage. Charges include conscripting child soldiers.
  • Central African Republic – Government referred a situation occurring within its territories during 2002-2003 to the Court. The alleged President and Commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. His trial resumes August 22, 2011.

Referral by the UN Security Council (UN Charter Chapter VII, Article 13)

  • Sudan – UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the Court. Four cases are before the Pre-Trial Chamber I. Three suspects remain at large.
  • Libya – UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the Court. Pre-Trial Chamber found reasonable grounds to believe three individuals are responsible for committing the international crimes of murder and persecution within the country since February 15, 2011.

Pre-Trial Chamber Authorization – Prosecutor Request (Article 15)

  • Kenya – On March 30, 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber II authorized an investigation into six individuals suspected of violations of crimes against humanity committed in 2008 post-election violence. Hearings on the charges against the accused are scheduled to begin in September 2011.
  • Republic of Côte d’Ivoire – Prosecutors have sought permission from Pre-Trial Chamber II to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by six individuals following the 2010 presidential election. ICC Press Release, June 17, 2011

Justice, Peace, and What Does This Mean for Victims?

For more, I recommend reading the report: The Pursuit of International Criminal Justice: A World Study on Conflicts, Victimization, and Post-Conflict Justice (M. Cherif Bassiouni ed., 2010, Brussels: Intersentia).


International Criminal Courts and Tribunals

Additional Resources on Inside Justice