Exploring humanitarian law — ICRC 2002
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Exploration 4B: The evolution of international tribunals
Fact Sheet: Answers to questions about:
The International Criminal Court (ICC)
In July 1998, 160 nations decided to establish a Judges: The Court is composed of 18 judges
permanent International Criminal Court to try who are elected by no less than a two-thirds
individuals for the most serious offences of majority of the States that are party to the
global concern, such as genocide, war crimes Court Statute.
and crimes against humanity. The agreement
Why have countries decided to set up
was hailed by United Nations (UN) Secretary- Jurisdiction: The ICC is mandated to
General Koﬁ Annan as “a giant step forward an International Criminal Court now?
prosecute and try persons responsible for
in the march towards universal human rights the most serious crimes of concern to the
and the rule of law”. But some critics think The UN General Assembly ﬁrst recognized the
international community as a whole. Subject to
the ICC will be, at best, an ineffective body, need for such a Court in 1948, following the
detailed limitations, this jurisdiction is general
and at worst, a dangerous threat to national Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II,
and not limited (like the ICTY’s and the ICTR’s)
sovereignty. This fact sheet addresses some and it has been under discussion at the UN ever
to a particular situation.
common questions and misconceptions. since. But recently, the horriﬁc events in the
former Yugoslavia and Rwanda – for which ad
Authority: The Tribunal’s authority is to hoc tribunals were established by the UN Security
Origin: The ICC was created by a treaty, prosecute and try four clusters of offences: Council – spurred international interest in the
adopted at Rome in July 1998, following an
need for a permanent mechanism to prosecute
international conference. On 11 April 2002, Genocide mass murderers and war criminals. A permanent
the 60th ratiﬁcation of the Rome Statute Crimes against humanity court is able to act more quickly than ad hoc
establishing the International Criminal Court War crimes bodies, and will serve as a stronger deterrent.
in The Hague, in the Netherlands, activated its Crimes of aggression
entry into force on 1 July 2002. A total of 139
States had already signed the Statute. It is subsidiary to national courts.