International Criminal Court
On December 17, 1996, the United Nations General Assembly, by consensus, adopted Resolution 51/ 207 on the establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC).
The decision to adopt the resolution represents the culmination of determined efforts, since 1945, to find an international mechanism to hold individuals accountable for violations of international humanitarian and, to an extent, human rights laws. It also represents some current challenges and a promising future. In 1948 the UN adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, which makes it an international crime to commit defined criminal acts with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. There was no criminal court, however, before which the convention could be adjudicated, therefore, in the 1950s, the International Law Commission (ILC), a UN agency, was authorized to codify (systematize and classify) the Nuremberg principles and prepare a draft statute to create an international criminal court. Because of the Cold War, however, that preparation was brought to a standstill. In 1989, the country of Trinidad and Tobago reintroduced the idea of a permanent court before the General Assembly, and this time, with the waning of the Cold War and the outbreak of violence in the former Yugoslavia, the idea drew more attention. The General Assembly, therefore, requested the ILC to prepare a draft statute for a permanent criminal court. In 1993 and 1994, respectively, the Security Council of the United Nations established ad hoc War Crimes Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, following allegations of genocide in each country. In 1994 year, the ILC completed and submitted to the General Assembly a draft statute on a proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) and recommended calling a conference of plenipotentiaries to draw up a treaty to enact the statute. On the basis of that recommendation, in November 1995, the General Assembly created a preparatory committee to meet and finalize the draft text so that it could be presented to an international conference for acceptance in 1998. In July 1998, the statute and constitution of the Court was approved, and the ICC will have jurisdiction to try: (1) crimes of genocide; (2) crimes against humanity; (3) war crimes; and (4) crimes of aggression. Crimes against humanity is the broadest category, which includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, rape, forced prostitution, forced disappearance of persons, and apartheid. In the area of present challenge, a number of member states of the UN, including the United States, have reservations about the creation of such a court, although their numbers have been substantially reduced. Other issues likely to continue include questions about the ICC's broad jurisdiction and the relationship of that jurisdiction to the UN Security Council. The future holds some promise. Unlike the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the ICC will be permanent. Also, unlike those tribunals, the ICC will not be geographically bound—it will be able to deal with cases from anywhere in the world. Unlike the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the ICC will be free of the taint of a victors' court. And finally, unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where only states or intergovernmental organizations can bring complaints, the ICC will deal with nonstate groups.
We're sorry this article wasn't helpful. Tell us how we can improve.