The International Criminal Court

Steven C. Roach

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:
The International Criminal Court


The International Criminal Court (ICC) became fully operational on 1 July 2002. The origins of the ICC can be traced to the interwar years, more specifically, to the attempts by League of Nations officials to establish a special tribunal to prosecute the German Kaiser as well as hold trials for the perpetrators of atrocities committed by former Ottoman/Turkish officials. Neither of these early attempts materialized into an operational international criminal court. However, the success of the Nuremberg Trials (1945–1946) did convince the UN General Assembly to draw up proposals for a new international criminal court. Although the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union stopped the early momentum toward the establishment of a permanent international court, the International Law Commission would finally complete its final draft statute in 1994. One hundred sixty-eight state delegations attended the Rome Conference to establish a permanent international criminal court in the summer of 1998. Of the 168 states, 120 voted in favor of establishing the court. Given the ICC’s novelty as a permanent international criminal court established under international treaty law, many legal issues regarding its jurisdictional authority and independence arose. These included the exercise of discretionary authority under the complementarity principle, the role of the UN Security Council, and the codification of a comprehensive definition and specific elements of the crime of aggression. Many of these issues underscored the complex political structure of the ICC, in particular its dependence on state cooperation. Since the ICC became fully operational, legal scholars, political scientists, and philosophers have addressed the questions of how the United States and other major powers impose political constraints on the ICC and whether the political repercussions of indictments and ICC intervention have negatively impacted the peace processes between warring factions.

Article.  7329 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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