Justice for victims has often been invoked as the raison d’être of international criminal justice, achieved by punishing perpetrators of international crimes. This article attempts to provide a more holistic account of justice for victims by examining victims’ needs, interests and rights. The International Criminal Court (ICC) itself includes participation, protection and reparation for victims within its purview, indicating that they are important stakeholders. This article also suggests that victims are integral to the purpose of the ICC in ending impunity by ensuring transparency of proceedings. However, there are limits to the resources and capacity of the ICC, which can only investigate and prosecute selected crimes. To overcome this justice gap, this article directs the debate towards a victim-orientated agenda, to complementarity, where state parties and the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) are expected to play a greater role in implementing justice for victims domestically. This victim-orientated complementarity approach can be achieved through new ASP guidelines on complementarity, expanding universal jurisdiction or seeking enforcement and cooperation through regional and international bodies and courts, such as United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review or the African Court of Justice and Human Rights' International Criminal Law Section. In the end, if we are serious about delivering justice for victims we need to move beyond rhetoric, with realistic expectations of what the ICC can achieve, and concentrate our attention to what states should be doing to end impunity.
Journal Article. 15016 words.
Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law ; International Criminal Law ; International Humanitarian Law ; Transnational Crime
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