11 Facts you must know about International Criminal Court

  1. The United Nations has ad hoc tribunals dealing with abuses in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, but the ICC is the first permanent court set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.
  2. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was established in 1998, and the treaty entered into force on July 1, 2002.
  3. The court is now supported by 119 nations. Among those that have not signed up is the United States. US opposed the creation of the ICC, fearing it would be used for politically motivated prosecutions of its citizens.
  4. Please note that India has neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The reason is that Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC) defines war crimes including the ‘armed conflict not of an international character’. The inclusion of ‘armed conflict not of an international character’ in defining ‘war crimes’ in Article 8 of the Statute for an ICC has met with resistance from the Indian establishment. Yet, with India as a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, this is not a provision that is being brought in for the first time. The situation of conflict that persists in Kashmir, the North-East, and, for a while, in Punjab explains the reasons for the state’s anxiety that this manner of violence could be referred to the ICC. The Indian state has been protesting the cross-border terrorism that infiltrates into India, especially Kashmir, from Pakistan. In the politicizing of the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan often adverts to the human rights violations that are projected as having become a part of the lives of people in the Kashmir valley. The ICC, it is expected, will be used for embarrassing India by attempts to make a case out of the violence in Kashmir. The exclusion of international terrorism from the crimes covered by the ICC appears to lend weight to the possibilities of misuse of these provisions of the Statute.
  5. Countries which are not party to the Rome Statute are not obliged to hand over suspects.
  6. The court has jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after July 1, 2002, in countries that have ratified its treaty. However, the ICC can also prosecute if the U.N. Security Council refers a case to it regarding crimes committed in a country that is not a signatory to the treaty.
  7. Proceedings before the ICC may be initiated by a state party, the prosecutor or the Security Council.
  8. Ivory Coast is not a state party but it has already accepted the jurisdiction of the court and Ouattara wrote to ICC in May asking it to investigate reported abuses. The ICC launched its first investigations in 2004, into crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, and issued its first arrest warrants in 2005 for five leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, accused of stoking 19 years of conflict. The governments of both countries had asked the ICC to investigate.
  9. The ICC is currently handling 11 cases, including the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya, alleged war crimes committed in the Central African Republic and Sudan’s conflict-ridden Darfur region, while the prosecutor’s office is conducting examinations in several other countries including Afghanistan and Georgia.
  10. The court is based in The Hague, Netherlands and is funded by contributions from state parties and by voluntary contributions from governments, organisations and individuals.
  11. The ICC is separate from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest legal authority of the United Nations which is also based in The Hague and which was inaugurated in 1946 to resolve disputes between states.

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