The International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is one of our world’s preeminent legal institutions. Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the ICC was founded by the Rome Statute in 1998. This complex international organization, which has 124 member states and a number of others working closely with it, is focused on the prosecution of international crimes and proliferation of justice across the globe.
While the Rome Statute which founded the court was adopted in 1998, the ICC did not practically enter force until 2002. The ICC concerns itself with four primary crimes committed on the international level; genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression.
Perhaps the most high-profile case of the ICC was that of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan. The then-sitting president was prosecuted for mass killings, rape, and genocide. Critics of the ICC have pointed out that, while Al Bashir was prosecuted, he has never been arrested, even after travelling into territories under the control of ICC member states.
While the ICC enjoys the membership of over 120 countries, a number of critical international players are notably absent from its ranks, the United States being the chief amongst them. While the U.S. was an original signatory member of the ICC, it later withdrew from the court, and only recently became an observer state under President Barrack Obama. Other major nations which are absent from the ICC are China, India, Turkey, and Russia.
While the ICC claims global jurisdiction, it tends only to intervene in legal affairs when nations are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals themselves. The ICC lacks any formal police force of its own, and, like the United Nations, relies on member states to enforce its rulings and function as it’s enforcers around the globe.
Each member of the ICC contributes to its annual budget, which reached over $150 million for the first time in 2016. While the ICC theoretically has the power to prosecute some of the world’s most powerful people, include the leaders of nation states, it has faced international criticism for alleged bias, and many legal scholars are skeptical of its ability to enact meaningful change. Regardless, the ICC is nonetheless often applauded for upholding standards of human rights around the world.
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