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International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court

While much of the world has waited on the development of an international criminal justice system for almost a century, not all of the world's countries have uniformly anticipated or accepted the prospect. The concept of an international criminal court has historically manifested its vulnerability to the conditions of war or peace, with periods of war pointing to its significance but challenging its development and periods of peace manifesting resurgence in its development but failing to reinforce its significance. At the same time, the development and ratification of a wholly accepted international criminal court has been challenged by the inherent weaknesses of ambiguity and oversimplification in both its definitions and its procedures. It is not surprising therefore that it has take more than three quarters of a century to see the concept almost fully evolved in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The present research offers a brief historical overview of the development of the International Criminal Court (ICC) followed by an examination of the major objectives of the ICC as they are defined in the ICC Statute. The enforcement measures defined by the ICC Statute are an important issue that will be examined as well as the role of the ICC in influencing national as well as international security. A major portion of the research will be confined to the following:

  1. Examining the United States' position on the ICC.
  2. Researching how it has evolved since the initial ratification by the Clinton Administration.
  3. The research will also examine issues and perspectives from a broader, international scope.
  4. Research will fulfill the objective of deriving the implications and recommendations for the future of the ICC that follow.

The research varies on the origin of the concept of an international criminal court however one of the earliest is attributed to a proposal made by Gustav Monnier for a draft statute that would address breaches of the Geneva Convention of 1864 and other humanitarian standards. It was not until 1899 and then 1907 that the Hague Conventions were created with the objective of enforcing moral obligations and duties on the States. Although they would identify some acts as illegal, the conventions did not attempt to identify criminal acts and did not work therefore to identify, investigate and prosecute States or individuals for criminal liability.

A number of other historical sources suggest that the pursuit of an international criminal court has been carried out for more than three-quarters of a century, in response early on to an increase in blatant war-related crimes manifested in the first part of the twentieth century and subsequently to the growing concern that states would continue to ignore their accountability in such crimes. A draft statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice created in 1920 with the support of President Wilson was designed to assuage this concern. Just over two decades later, an international criminal court was proposed in the midst of World War II to address the fact that international law had not, to that point, developed any conception of crimes which might be committed by States.

Some sources place the origin of the pursuit of an international criminal court in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the third session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The prospects for an international criminal court system nevertheless were bolstered after World War II by the intent, purpose and success of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals however the Cold War that followed worked to undermine the demand for accountability and punishment over the next several decades.

By the time that the Cold War ended, the prospects for a highly necessary international criminal court were deemed greater than ever, an assertion supported by the obvious need to address cases like the large-scale communal violence demonstrated in Yugoslavia and Rwanda through formal criminal tribunals painstakingly created and carried by the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, the improvement in relations between the United States and Russia, as well as the revitalization of the United Nations over the last decade, has been considered influential in bolstering the possibilities for a successful and permanent treaty-based international criminal court established by member states.

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International Criminal Court Research Papers

Research papers on the International Criminal Court offers a brief historical overview of the development of the ICC followed by an examination of the major objectives of the ICC as they are defined in the ICC Statute.

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