International Federation for Human Rights
Although this young court has quickly taken on challenges and made great strides forward, it must still attain several goals and explore many avenues in order to truly put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes, and thus ensure the prevention of new crimes. FIDH launches a revised edition of its paper on the first years of the International Criminal Court (first version published in March 2009). December 2009 (pdf).
After 50 years of expectations and discussions, in 1998 the United Nations approved the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an independent and permanent body committed to judge crimes against humanity.
The Statute, besides creating the ICC, classifies the most serious crimes against human rights and establishes procedures for penal prosecution in such cases. As a consequence, the signatory States are committed to amending internally their penal laws and procedures, in order to fulfil this new obligation, and to developing measures to control, prevent and combat any criminal attacks on fundamental rights.
The ICC entered into force on 1 July 2002. The ratification was made possible in April that year, after a group of 10 countries -including Bosnia, Cambodia, Ireland, Mongolia and Romania- signed the treaty during a ceremony at the UN headquarters, in New York, taking the total number of ratifications to 66 at that time.
The signature of at least 60 countries was required in order to approve the treaty. However, many important states have failed to sign or ratify the agreement, including the United States, China and Russia. Shortly before the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the US launched a full-scale multi-pronged campaign against the International Criminal Court, claiming that the ICC may initiate politically-motivated prosecutions against its nationals.
The ICC is a complementary organism to national justice systems, and only has authority in cases where a State cannot or does not want to judge people charged with the crimes. The Rome Statute establishes the penal responsibility of troop commanders or heads of State who commit crimes against humanity, including military or political leaders of guerrilla or informal groups that attack civil populations in non-international conflicts.
In 2004, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo formally announced the beginning of investigations on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Later on, new cases emerged involving the Central African Republic and Sudan, while other cases in Colombia, Afghanistan and Georgia are being analized.
As of 24 March 2010, there are 139 signatories and 111 States Parties (ratifications).
Like the United Nations and other independent international institutions, the ICC relies on a separate agreement to regulate the privileges and immunities of the Court and the persons involved with the work of the Court (pdf format).
Ten years after the adoption of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Statute in Rome (Rome Statute), and six years after its entry into force (July 1, 2002) and the establishment of a new institution, there is now an “operational”? permanent International Criminal Court. March/December 2009 (pdf).
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (ICC) held its second Regional Strategy Meeting for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Cairo, Egypt from 29-30th March 2008. Representatives from 9 Arab countries (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen) deliberated on strategies to successfully push for more ratifications of the Rome Statute in the Arab region. The participants issued a thorough Arab civil society statement calling on Arab States to join the ICC without delay by ratifying and implementing the Rome Statute, and notes that the region is missing an historic opportunity to shape the ICC by increasing its participation in the international criminal justice system. May 2008.
Although Article 120 of the Rome Statute provides that no reservations may be made to the Statute, unilateral declarations which specify or clarify the meaning of certain provisions are not prohibited.(1) Amnesty International is seriously concerned that some declarations made upon ratification by some states amount to disguised reservations. In this report Amnesty International examines declarations made by six states parties and concludes that a number of them amount to reservations. November 2005.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) has prepared a Background Paper in preparation for the sixth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ASP). The Assembly will meet in New York, the United States, from 30 November – 14 December 2007. The Coalition expects around 200 NGO representatives to attend the sixth session of the ASP. November 2007 (pdf version).
The sixth session of the Assembly of States Parties will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 30 November to 14 December 2007. Nine years after the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, over half of all states have ratified it and the sixth session of the Assembly takes place in the context of a functioning International Criminal Court, which is about to start its first trial. At this stage in the Court’s history, the support of the Assembly is vital. October 2007.
It is of critical importance that the work of the ICC in Darfur is successful, for the victims in Darfur and the future in Sudan. But there are a series of challenges which will impact upon the success of the ICC, acording to this report prepared by REDRESS, an international NGO working –based in UK- to obtain justice and reparation for torture survivors. May 2007 (pdf version).
The paper makes recommendations to the Assembly of States Parties, the Bureau's Working Group on Ratification and Implementation, the Secretariat of the Assembly and states parties to ensure effective progress in 2007 towards the implementation of the Assembly's Plan of Action for achieving universality and full implementation of the Rome Statute, which was adopted at its fifth session in 2006. June 2007.
The virulent campaign against the International Criminal Court waged by conservative hardliners in the Congress and Bush administration has alienated America from its allies and isolated the United States from the court’s application and enforcement of atrocity law, including the “crime of aggression”—with major implications for U.S. military engagements overseas, write David Scheffer and John Hutson in a new paper for The Century Foundation. The lurid worst-case scenarios spun out by ICC foes have patently not come to pass, the former war-crimes ambassador and former judge-advocate-general of the Navy point out, and the next President and Congress need to engage the United States closely in the court’s work. October 2008 (pdf).
A Bush administration policy of suspending military aid to nations that won't promise to shield Americans from the war-crimes tribunal, called the International Criminal Court, is reducing or canceling dozens of programs that further U.S. interests abroad. October 2004.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that his office will not investigate war crimes committed in Iraq by coalition forces. The Bush administration has staunchly opposed the ICC claiming it will "unfairly target" US military personnel. Ocampo's decision gives evidence of the court's impartiality. (Citizens for Global Solutions) February 2006.
The United States intensified its assault on international justice with Congress’ approval of the “Nethercutt Amendment”. This provision, part of an overall spending bill, mandates withholding antiterrorism funds and other aid from countries that refuse to grant immunity for U.S. citizens before the International Criminal Court. December 2004.
Ambassador Larry Napper, head of the U.S. delegation to the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Poland, responded October 8 to comments by others at the conference on the U.S. drive to enter into bilateral Article 98 agreements that prohibit the surrender of U.S. persons to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without U.S. consent. October 2004.
As America's reputation in the world dwindles to pathetic new lows, and with the United States seeking international support in Iraq and in the fight against terrorism, one might think this an inopportune moment to bait some of US's closest foreign allies into unnecessary diplomatic rows. And yet, undeterred, Republican Representatives Tom DeLay and George Nethercutt teamed up on the House floor, and on July 15 they successfully pushed an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would accomplish just that. September 2004.
Shortly before the entry into force of the Rome Statute in July 2002, the United States launched a full-scale multi-pronged campaign against the International Criminal Court, claiming that the ICC may initiate politically-motivated prosecutions against US nationals. This section provides information, analysis and documents on these US efforts to undermine the Court, including:
• Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs)
• the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA); and
• ICC immunity resolutions in the Security Council
The current US administration has a near-religious aversion to the new, permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). It claims that the court will become a forum for politicized prosecutions. However, the ICC's highly qualified judges, prosecutor, and administrator are concerned with issues such as the use of child soldiers in the Congo and systematic rape in Burma, not with political cases against US citizens.
Raising its war against the International Criminal Court to a new level, the administration of President George W. Bush Tuesday cut off military aid to 35 friendly countries in retaliation for their support of the International Criminal Court and refusal to exempt US soldiers from the ICC's jurisdiction.
The current actions of the Bush administration make a mockery of the Nuremberg principles, by arrogantly dismissing the International Criminal Court and the jurisdiction of international human rights law over US citizens.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, talked about the US, the difficult task that governments face in accepting the ICC, the first cases that he will follow and other issues related to the court.
The United States is using the carrot of free trade agreements to pressure countries in Latin America not to ratify the statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC), complained human rights activists and an indigenous legislator at the first Social Forum of the Americas.
The International Criminal Court has received nearly 500 communications since the Rome Statute of the ICC entered into force on July 1, 2002. The Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Campo, specifically rejected investigating situations outside the temporal, thematic or territorial limits of the Court's jurisdiction. He has selected the situation in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo, as the most urgent situation to be followed. The communications regarding this issue included two detailed reports from NGOs.
The decision by the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur is a welcome and crucial step towards challenging the impunity that has worsened conflict in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. According to the International Crisis Group, the Sudanese government must exercise restraint in its response to the decision, and ensure that its actions do not undermine the opportunity to achieve peace in Sudan. 4 March 2009.
On Monday 14 July 2008, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court to indict the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. The request is a historic moment in international justice. But is it wise, and will it bring peace in Sudan nearer or destabilise the country further? July 2008.
There is nothing continentally-specific about crimes committed during conflict. Yet the first investigations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are concentrated in Africa. The absence of direct Great Power involvement in these conflicts might make Africa more susceptible than other parts of the world to such investigations. However, this is not a reason for seeking impunity for the continent, but rather a call to ensure that the work of the ICC extends wherever it is needed throughout the world. March 2008 (pdf).
As conflict rages in Darfur, few local people are aware of the work being done by the International Criminal Court, ICC, to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed there, a wide-ranging investigation by IWPR can reveal. November 2007.
Peace talks between the Ugandan government and the insurgent Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are moving in the right direction, but the core issues – justice, security and livelihoods – are still to be resolved and require difficult decisions, including on the fate of LRA leaders whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted. October 2007.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) strongly denounce the recent release from detention by Sudanese authorities of Ali Muhammad Al Abd-Al-Rahan (alias Ali Kushayb), due to "lack of evidence against him", according to Sudan’s foreign minister Lam Akol. October 2007.
The four-year-old International Criminal Court (ICC) recently began its first case, a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to bring to trial a Congolese citizen accused of conscripting child soldiers to fight in the country’s civil war. The world’s first permanent court dealing with grave crimes has focused its initial efforts on Africa and already is creating a stir related to two of Africa’s most serious problems—the crisis in Darfur and the conflict in northern Uganda. But some in Africa are questioning the court’s ability to provide justice. Meanwhile, the United States, the ICC’s most fervent opponent, appears to be softening its position on the court. November 2006.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has received a letter signed by the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo referring to him the situation of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed in the DRC. April 2004.
On March 31, 2005, the United Nations issued another response to the vast crisis in the Darfur region of far western Sudan, referring various conspicuous violations of international law to the International Criminal Court. Though there have been five previous UN Security Council resolutions bearing on Darfur, the response contained within Resolution 1593 has gained far and away the most public notice because it seemed, at first glance, to have teeth. April 2005.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, has said he will investigate the crimes committed on 21 February 2004 in Barlonya camp, North Eastern Uganda. The latest reports estimate the number of deaths at over 200. “The Office of the Prosecutor will take steps to ensure that the crimes committed in Barlonya camp will be investigated and that those bearing the greatest responsibility will be prosecuted,” he stated. (pdf format)
One year after the referral by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the situation in Darfur, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), its partner organisation SOAT (Sudan Organisation Against Torture) and the Khartoum Center for Human Rights and Environmental Development (KCHRED) are publishing their report "The International Criminal Court and Sudan: access to justice and victims’ rights". April 2006.
The International Criminal Court announced the opening of an investigation on the “situation” in Northern Uganda. According to the International Federation for Human Rights, “security and protection of victims must guide the Prosecutor’s intervention”. July 2004.
In uncharted waters: seeking justice before the atrocities have stopped
Uganda and the DRC, both full members of the ICC, have recently requested that the ICC investigate atrocities being committed on their territory. These referrals have raised hopes as well as concerns among civil society observers. A comprehensive report by Citizens for Global Solutions, written before the Prosecutor announced that he will officially investigate the crimes in the ICC, analizes the situation of both countries.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will officially investigate grave crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1 July 2002.
Following the referral by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of the situation concerning the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that there is sufficient basis to "start planning for the first investigation" (pdf format).
The Responsibility to Protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity is an international commitment by governments to prevent and react to grave crises, wherever they may occur. In 2005, world leaders agreed, for the first time, that states have a primary responsibility to protect their own populations and that the international community has a responsibility to act when these governments fail to protect the most vulnerable among us. The Responsibility to Protect-Engaging Civil Society (R2PCS) project works to advance Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and to promote concrete policies to better enable governments, regional organizations and the U.N. to protect vulnerable populations.
A study on the inclusion of justice issues in peace agreements concluded between 1980 and August 2006. The report analyses peace processes since 1980 and maps the way in which peace agreements have incorporated mechanisms for dealing with justice issues such as institutional reform, human rights frameworks, trials and amnesties. October 2007 (pdf version).
On the occasion of its 36th Congress, taking place in Lisbon from 19 to 25 April 2007, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is launching its "Guide for Victims, their Legal Representatives and NGOs on Victims' Rights before the International Criminal Court". This guide will help victims, their legal representatives and NGOs to use the International Criminal Court and to support victims, at last, to obtain truth, justice and reparations. May 2007.
This unique 861-page book organizes the decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia by topic, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, individual criminal responsibility, command responsibility, affirmative defenses, jurisdiction, sentencing, fair trial rights, guilty pleas and appellate review. In selected cases, the book also applies key aspects of the law to the facts of the case. The volume is oriented to practitioners and staff at institutions established to try such crimes -such as the International Criminal Court and the Sierra Leone Special Court. The book will also serve as a tool for academics, nongovernmental organizations working in the field, and students interested in international criminal justice. July 2006.
Eric Stover’s study constitutes an important contribution to the growing literature on international justice and accountability. Written by a scholar with considerable field experience, The Witnesses examines a relatively neglected area of the international judicial process: the role of victims and witnesses who have testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Drawing vividly on their testimony, Stover adeptly reveals a hidden side of international tribunals. Best Book in Human Rights Award 2005 from the American Political Science Association. August 2006.
Many Africans supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) because
we believed it would help us end high-level impunity for mass atrocities and ‘enable us to attain the best we are capable of,’ Chidi Anselm Odinkalu tells Pambazuka News. But just five years after the ICC received its first case from Uganda, victims of ‘bad government’ across the continent are no longer sure the court can help them secure justice. August 2009.
The age of impunity may be giving way to a new kind of global justice. Thanks to television and radio, millions of people worldwide have learned of the atrocities suffered by other human beings, and have become outraged at what they have seen and heard. People no longer accept that perpetrators profit from impunity for their crimes. So, could this be the beginning of a new era of human rights and international justice? August 2006.
"Justice for Darfur" is a campaign supported by human rights organisations worldwide, calling on the international community to ensure the prompt arrest and surrender to the International Criminal Court of the persons charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, Sudan. The campaign is launched on the first anniversary of the issuance of the arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC). April 2008.
The Victims' Rights Working Group (VRWG) is a network of over 300 national and international civil society groups and experts created in 1997 under the auspices of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. The VRWG works to ensure that victims’ rights are effectively protected and respected, and that their needs and concerns are met throughout the judicial process of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This Journalists' Guide, from the canadian Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS), has been produced as part of the International Criminal Court Technical Assistance Program. It provides information on the ICC as well as links to other information resources, including NGOs and UN. (pdf format)
Exactly ten years ago, on 10 February 1995, a small group of non-governmental organizations met across from the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and launched an idealistic campaign dedicated to a single cause; to support the establishment of a fair, effective and independent International Criminal Court. No one predicted then how extraordinarily successful this global campaign would become. The support of NGOs, governments, international organizations, journalists, and individuals alike have turned a distant dream into a vital reality. February 2005 (pdf version).
Human rights non-governmental organizations are often among the first to reach the scene of massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Traditionally, human rights NGOs documented violations, drew attention to them, and by doing so, helped to bring a halt to ongoing violations. But human rights NGOs are having to rethink their practices in light of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the prospect that the violations they are documenting could become the subject of a criminal prosecution before an international tribunal. October 2004 (pdf version).
REDRESS is a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation. It works to establish and facilitate the NGO Victims Working Group within the NGO Coalition for an International Criminal Court.
No Peace Without Justice is an international committee of parliamentarians, mayors and citizens, among whose objectives is campaigning for the establishment and effectiveness of an International Criminal Court.
Since 1992, the International Centre for Criminal and Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR) has been and continues to be actively committed to supporting global efforts in combating international crimes and assisting with the creation of a permanent, effective and just International Criminal Court (ICC). The Centre is a Canadian non-profit institute.
A panel of activists and international lawyers described at the III World Social Forum the process that led to the creation of this permanent, international and independent institution, which came into force on 1 July 2002.
As this report states, local civil society groups play a vital role in the implementation of the International Criminal Court. In order to fulfill the aims of ICC countries must produce effective legislation in the implementation stage.
A multinational coalition of jurists and civil society groups says it is launching an initiative to investigate alleged war crimes in Iraq for potential prosecution by the young International Criminal Court (ICC) or other legal bodies.
The purpose of this report is to assess the implementation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the Rome Statute, Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) and Elements of Crimes (EoC) and in particular the gender mandates they embody, in the more than seven years since the Rome Statute came into force. February 2010 (pdf).
If you’re a woman in Darfur and you want to lay a charge of rape, the chances are that the charge will be changed to one of assault. Even if you want to persist in your charge of rape, you’ll need four male witnesses to support your charge. As a result, sexual and gender based violence is one of the biggest violations of women’s rights in Darfur, writes Christine Butegwa from Femnet. Hopes are high that the International Criminal Court will be able to change the situation. February 2006.
A global women’s initiative working to ensure justice for women and an independent and effective International Criminal Court (formerly Women's Caucus for Gender Justice). Site under construction, archives can be accessed.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently began its first formal investigation to judge crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is urgent that the women's movement monitor whether the ICC effectively investigates and sanctions the perpetrators of sexual and gender crimes committed against women. This special issue by WHR Net addresses key aspects of the ICC, such as gender crimes and related case law, gender-sensitive proceedings and the possible implications of implementing international standards nationally to advance women's human rights.
The pursuit of international justice for perpetrators of atrocity crimes necessarily has political implications – from shifting the balance of power within a country, to requiring other states to cooperate when doing so may adversely affect their own interests, to confronting both international and domestic actors with the undesirable task of weighing the benefits of peace against the costs of impunity. Not all of these issues are present in every case, but few, if any, international prosecutions escape controversy. And the more closely international investigations and indictments follow on the heels of atrocities, the more likely they are to generate political challenges. March 2009.
As stateless people, Palestinians have no state which could sign the Rome Statute with a view to seeking the adjudication of the ICC, or which would be entitled to bring a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as Bosnia and Herzegovina did concerning the massacre at Srebrenica. Without a state, Palestinians are also denied the legal protection offered by classic interstate diplomacy. January 2009.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) published its report on the application of the Justice and Peace Act in Colombia. The report is the result of more than two years of work in conjunction with FIDH leagues in Colombia: the “José Alvear Restrepo” lawyers’ collective, ILSA, and the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. It is also based on observation of the Justice and Peace hearings held from May to July 2007 at the Justice and Peace Tribunals in Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla. October 2007.
International war crimes courts are first and foremost judicial institutions tasked with trying suspects from some of the most brutal conflicts worldwide, but there is also an expectation that the justice they deliver will play a part in eventual reconciliation. Some human rights organisations feel that the only way that justice inside the courtrooms can make a difference outside is by educating the communities in the countries affected by the crimes. February 2007.
The International Criminal Court, ICC, faces a big challenge protecting individual victims and witnesses of war crimes who are working with the court. Issues surrounding the security of victims and witnesses recently dealt a serious blow to investigations into two of the three situations being dealt with by the court - Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. On June 14, 2006 the ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the United Nations Security Council that the absence of a “functioning and sustainable system” for victim and witness protection prohibits an “effective investigation inside Darfur”. He added that the lack of protection is a “strong disincentive” to those who would otherwise come forward to participate in investigations for the ICC, and that “in addition to a moral duty, my office is under a legal obligation to protect victims and witnesses”. July 2006.
The article -by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo- provides historical background to the ICC, an overview of where the Court is today, commentary about the impact that the Court's first three cases have already had, and comments about the need for complementarity. June 2006.
The world took a giant step towards eliminating impunity for human rights abuses on 9 November when the International Criminal Court opened its first official hearing, in a case against a Congolese militia leader. Now former presidents of Liberia and Chad face trial in African courts. These moves have been hailed as the beginning of a new era of accountability for abusive political leaders in Africa and an important blow against impunity for official misconduct around the world. January 2007.
Following the end of the civil war, which lasted from 1991 until 2002, the Sierra Leone justice system lacked the capacity to hold perpetrators of the crimes accountable. Corruption and political manipulation plagued the judiciary. Hundreds of criminal suspects suffered from extended and unlawful detention, many without the due process guarantees stipulated in the constitution. The numbers of judges, magistrates, and prosecutors were inadequate and numerous courtrooms and police stations were destroyed during the war. Prompted by a request from Sierra Leone President Tejan Kabbah to the United Nations, a national-international court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (Special Court or SCSL), was established in 2002 by agreement between the Sierra Leone government and the United Nations to prosecute serious crimes committed during the war. 2004.
Having consumed roughly two billion US dollars in funding from the international community since the mid Nineties, the UN’s ad-hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are supposed to finish their work within three years. But top prosecutors from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, have recently expressed concerns about completing cases on time.
This paper discusses how the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court differs from the jurisdictions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and concludes that power matters.