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How Effective Is The International Criminal Court?
Comments (3)

By Aislinn Killian In light of the ineffectiveness or in some cases complete absence of a justice system in parts of the world, the Rome Statute calls for international co-operation to “liberate mankind from such an odious scourge” that is genocide and crimes against humanity. The Rome Statute is the founding article for the International Criminal Court ICC set up in The Hague on July 1st 2002. At present 122 countries have signed the Rome Statute, with the Untied States remaining notably absent. The ICC is an independent court reliant on the participation of its member states in order to try those accused of crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes. With over $1 billion being spent on the ICC its ability to perform its required task needs to be under constant review to prevent its decline into an incompetent, overly bureaucratized organization. The first major bout of criticism of the ICC occurred at the 10-year mark last July 2012 when its track record was brought into question. The court has opened formal investigations into 28 of the most serious atrocities and has indicted more than two dozen people. Yet by the 10-year mark only one of these cases had been completed. In March 2012 Thomas Lubanga was convicted for the conscription of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Justice was served, albeit six years after Lubanga was initially taken into custody. As the region is still strife with conflict it raises the possibility that justice delayed was in indeed justice denied. Swifter and more decisive action by the ICC could have had a greater impact on peace in the region. This wave of criticism brought with it suggestions for improvement. A report by the American University Washington College of Law noted the delay caused by a requirement that arrest warrants must be issued by a panel of judges, rather than allowing a single-judge decision. Introducing a single-judge issuing of warrants could greatly hasten this process. The current appeals system is an additional cause of delay. Allowing appeals from the defendant is, of course, paramount in a fair trial, but if the ICC were to change to a final judgment appeal system this would serve to reduce delays without disintegrating the integrity of the trial. In a final judgment appeal system an appeal, or a series of appeals, can only be made after the final judgment curtailing the interlocutory appeals, which can cause months of delay. Despite the plethora of suggested improvements catalogued by the various critics of the ICC, a year on and with a new chief prosecutor in tow, little has changed. The high profile case in Kenya against those accused of inciting the election violence in 2007 has developed into an almost farcical sequence of events. The “Ocampo’s six” has now been changed to Bensouda’s three after the cases against three of the men initially charged by former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo were dropped on insufficient evidence. The remaining group of three include Kenya’s newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto. The trial, which was already postponed from April to July this year allowing the accused to run for office, may not happen at all. In a letter to the UN Security Council signed by the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN, a call was made for “the immediate termination of the case at the Hague.” The letter cited Kenyatta’s “overwhelming” victory at 50.07% of the vote as evidence that Kenyans do not support the case against him. The suggestion of a home grown solution was raised though the letter declined to note that Kenya failed to set up its own tribunals, which was what initially resulted in the suspects names being handed over to the ICC. A failure in Kenya to bring the accused to court will further impact on the ICC’s already flagging credibility. The ICC is plagued with delays, it lacks an enforcement force to aid in its duties, and it struggles with political power play. This is not to say there is no place for the ICC, much of the developing world do not have an adequate justice system and could benefit from a last resort international court. Though to remain viable, the ICC needs to address its weakness and continue an active process of reform to ensure its ability to follow through on its commitments.

Comments in Chronological order (3 total comments)

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Fri, July 12, 2013 01:15 PM (about 83834 hours ago)
ICC can and should prove the critics that tag it as a 'toothless bulldog' wrong by expediating the Kenya's case, and of course that of neighbouring Sudan's case, irrespective of the political statuses of the indictees, it's only then that perpetrators of similar injustices would learn from ICC's warning shots
Mon, July 15, 2013 01:18 AM (about 83774 hours ago)
Mon, July 15, 2013 01:19 AM (about 83774 hours ago)
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