International Criminal Court

Meanings of International Criminal Court

According to, ICC stands for International Criminal Court. Also known as the International Criminal Court. Court with autonomous international legal personality, permanent, independent and linked to the United Nations system. It has jurisdiction to try the individuals responsible for the commission of the most serious crimes of international concern, among which are war crimes, genocide, against humanity and aggression. Its creation constitutes a milestone in the history of humanity, as it is the first time that an international criminal jurisdiction of a judicial and permanent nature has been established, capable of trying the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international importance.

Importance of your establishment

It is necessary to prosecute and punish those responsible for crimes such as genocide since the International Court of Justice only deals with cases between States without prosecuting individuals.

Without an International Criminal Court to address individual responsibility for acts of genocide and serious human rights violations, these crimes often go unpunished. In the last 50 years there have been many cases of crimes against humanity and war crimes in which no individual has been punished, such as in Cambodia, Mozambique, Liberia, El Salvador, Algeria, the Great Lakes region of Africa and others. countries.

The establishment of a permanent tribunal to punish those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide is important as it avoids the inherent delays of preparing an ad hoc tribunal that can be used by criminals to escape or disappear; witnesses can be intimidated or political and social conditions can worsen, and investigations become more expensive. Ad hoc tribunals are subject to time or place limits.

The International Criminal Court can also act when national justice institutions are involuntary or unable to act. You can also prevent the commission of crimes against humanity by arresting future war criminals.

Assembly of States Parties

The Assembly of States Parties is the oversight of the management and legislative body of the International Criminal Court. It is made up of representatives of the States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute. As a principle of independence of the Court, and to guarantee its political impartiality, the Assembly of States Parties is not an organ of the ICC. The ASP functions instead as the legislative arm of the Court that also guarantees its funding.

According to the International Criminal Court, on its website, updated until December 2009, 110 countries have signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, being divided by geographical areas, as follows: African countries, Asian countries, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Europe and other countries.

One of the ideas that that assembly led was to turn the Court into a truly international body. Despite the criticisms raised at the time by the ratification rules that do not allow reservations, a high number of quorum was established for it to take office (60 ratifications). The ratifications were achieved in four years, and the Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002.

Applicable principles

The functioning of the Court is governed by a series of norms and principles that transform it into a special court, only to hear really particular cases. The applicable principles are:

  • Complementarity: the Court works only when a country does not judge or cannot judge the facts within the jurisdiction of the court;
  • Nullum crime sine lege: the crime must be defined at the time of the commission and must fall within the jurisdiction of the Court;
  • Nulla poena sine lege: a convicted person by the Court can only be punished as ordered by the Statute;
  • Irretroactivity ratione personae: no one can be prosecuted by the Court for acts or crimes committed prior to its entry into force;
  • Individual criminal responsibility: legal persons will not be subject to the punitive claim, except as an aggravating event due to illicit association;
  • The Court is not competent to judge those who were under 18 years of age at the time of the alleged crime;
  • Inadmissibility of official position: all are equal before the Court, even if the accused is, for example, head of state;
  • Responsibility for the position;
  • Imprescriptibility; and
  • Responsibility for compliance with office: it is not an exemption from criminal responsibility.

Relationship with the United Nations Organization

The International Criminal Court will be related to the United Nations through an agreement (preamble, ninth paragraph and article 2), which must be prepared by the Preparatory Commission, approved by the Assembly of States Parties, and concluded by the President of the Court on behalf of it.

After several alternatives, within the International Law Commission it was decided to create the International Criminal Court by means of an International Treaty. One of the main reasons has been the need to create an independent international criminal judicial body, and to guarantee this, it was decided not to link it structurally with a United Nations body, either as a subsidiary body derived from General Assembly resolutions under Article 22, or of the Security Council as a consequence of the application of Articles 24 and 25 in relation to Article 29 of the Charter.

However, it was necessary for the International Criminal Court to have a certain relationship with the United Nations, since an effective relationship with the United Nations would give the International Criminal Court the characteristics of universality, authority and permanence added to its independence in the judicial function, a Theoretical basis that provides the necessary instruments for the Court to meet its objectives effectively, fairly, independently and absent criteria of state political opportunity.

For these reasons, Article 2 of the Statute establishes that the Court will be linked to the United Nations by means of an agreement determining an appropriate relationship between the two organizations. This is a broad formula and the independence referred to above may be obstructed by other norms of the same article that may lead to a possible dependence on the political body of the United Nations, the Security Council. As an example, reference can be made to Article 16 of the Statute by means of which the Security Council, in accordance with a resolution passed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, may request the Court that the investigation or prosecution that it has initiated is suspended, for a term that is not greater than 12 months. This request may be renewed by the Security Council under the same conditions.

In this sense, the Statute does not determine how many times this suspension may be renewed. The problem is that said provision, by not determining a certain number of renewals, what was supposed to be a temporary suspension, may in practice become a permanent blockade. Said power of the Security Council may entail a certain dependence of the Court on the political organ of the United Nations, which could be negative for the effective action of the Court.

International Criminal Court

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