Trying the gravest crimes, involving victims, ensuring fair trials, complementing national tribunals: in its first 20 years of existence, the International Criminal Court has made notable progress in its crucial mission. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Court on 1 July 2022, here are five ways that the ICC is helping build a more just world.
1) Trying the gravest crimes
The ICC was created with the “millions of children, women and men” in mind who “have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity”. It is the world’s first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and the crime of aggression.
2) Involving victims
The Court does not only try and punish those responsible for the most serious crimes, but also ensures that the voices of the victims are heard. Victims are those who have suffered harm as a result of the commission of any crime within the Court’s jurisdiction.
3) Ensuring fair trials
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the ICC. Each defendant is entitled to public and impartial proceedings.
4) Complementing national courts
The Court does not replace national courts. It is a court of last resort. States have the primary responsibility to investigate, try and punish the perpetrators of the most serious crimes. The Court will only step in if the State in which serious crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction have been committed is unwilling or unable to genuinely address those.
5) Building more support for justice
With the support of 123 States Parties, from all continents, the ICC has established itself as a permanent and independent judicial institution. But unlike national judicial systems, the Court does not have its own police. It depends on the cooperation of states, including to implement its arrest warrants or summonses. Nor does it have territory to relocate witnesses who are at risk. The ICC thus depends, to a large extent, on the support and cooperation of States.
Source: The UN
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