International Criminal Court UPSC Notes, Updates

International Criminal court is in news recently us president has authorised against officials of ICC.

Why in News?

Recently, US President has authorized economic sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their investigation into alleged war crimes by U.S. forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003.

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court

About ICC

  • ICC is a permanent international court established to investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
    • It was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 17th July 1998.
    • It has 6 official languages: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish.
    • It has 2 working languages: English and French.
    • ICC Headquarters at The Hague, the Netherlands.
    • Court has jurisdiction only over crimes committed after July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute entered into force.
  • There are 123 countries party to the Rome Statute.
    • Countries that never signed the treaty: India, China, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.
    • Countries signed but not ratified the treaty: includes Egypt, Iran, Israel, Russia, United States, etc.
    • Burundi and the Philippines joined the ICC but later withdrew.
  • ICC does not replace national criminal justice systems; rather, it complements them.
  • Cases come before the court in the following ways:
    • a member country can refer a situation within its own territory to the court;
    • UN Security Council can refer a situation;
    • the prosecutor can launch an investigation into a member state Proprio Motu, or “on one’s own initiative.”

Limitation of ICC

  • Disproportionately targeting the African continent: Of the court’s more than two dozen cases, all have dealt with alleged crimes in African states.
  • In 2016, the African Union-backed a proposal led by Kenya for a mass withdrawal.
    • Lack of participation by three permanent members of the UN Security council:
    • China has not signed the Rome Statute, and neither the United States nor Russia has ratified it. This lack of participation hinders the ability to enforce the laws instituted by the court

Principal objections of India to the Rome Statute

  • Extraordinary privileges are given to the UNSC to make referrals to the Court.
  • This made the ICC subordinate to the UN Security Council, and thus in effect to its permanent members, and their political interference.
  • Blurred the legal distinction between normative customary law and treaty obligations, particularly in respect of the definitions of crimes against humanity and their applicability to internal conflicts.
  • India wanted a stricter complementarity regime whereby the Court would complement national jurisdiction only in exceptional situations when the judicial system in a State was non-existent or unable to deal with crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction.
  • Refused to designate the use of nuclear weapons and terrorism among crimes within the purview of the ICC, as proposed by India
  • Power to initiate cases on his/her own volition given to the ICC Chief Prosecutor.

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