Sixty-seven years ago, the world came together in the hopes of creating an international institution that would advance international peace and security, vowing that the atrocities of World War II would never come to fruition again. Identifying common definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, a foundation had been set. The United Nations, the product of this cross-border understanding, has done much towards upholding this call but often is stunted by the powerful veto allowed to the Permanent Five members of the U.N. Security Council.
Seeing the need for an independent body to further deter serious crimes and end criminal impunity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was born. On July 1, 2002 the Rome Statute was ratified by 60 countries, now joined by 61 others (121 total), of whom have identified the significance of such a court.
In the 10 year anniversary of the Court's proceedings, it is imperative to highlight its accomplishments and to work in further supporting its efforts. We need to reassert the global call from 1945 to uphold international peace and security, together.
The ICC is the only permanent international court capable of trying individuals accused of genocide war crimes and crimes against humanity when there is no other recourse for justice. It is no question that this is valuable and necessary in our increasingly interconnected world. What's more, the ICC carries forward the U.S. commitment to act to provide justice for victims of brutal atrocities, while reinforcing our values of democracy, rule of law, human rights, and justice.
Thus far, the ICC has accomplished a lot in its decade-long existence. There have been 28 indictments, 20 warrants of arrest, 15 cases brought to the Court-six of which are currently on trial, and 9 successful summonses. Overall the Court has been investigating seven primary situations in the countries of Darfur, Uganda, the Côte d'Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as seven preliminary examinations in Nigeria, Afghanistan, the Republic of Korea, Guinea, Georgia, and Colombia.
A verdict of the Court's first trial in March of 2012 was a milestone for the fledgling institution. The ICC accused Thomas Lubanga the former rebel leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for his recruitment and training of child soldiers.
Despite much talk about the fear of the ICC's unrestrained power, the court identifies itself as a "last resort." It has proclaimed that the Court has no place to intervene if the issue is being actively investigated by a country's own judicial system. The Court's actions on an issue do indeed become legitimate however, when there is evidence of malfeasance within a domestic court. Not to mention, the ICC can only summon perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. And in all of its dealings, the ICC holds itself to the standards of due process and impartiality.
There is no reason to feel apprehension for the ICC. It has demonstrated its ability to remain consistent to its original aims-hoping to hold the international community to one standard which seeks to end impunity for the gravest of crimes; a goal that we can all agree is a noble one.
From the ICC's 10th anniversary on July 1 - July 17, which commemorates International Justice Day, we will be celebrating the accomplishments of the ICC. We'll be collecting your greetings from now through July 17 to send to the Chief Prosecutor's Office. Click here to sign our 10th Birthday Card to the ICC and write a message. On July 14, join us for a webinar featuring Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former ICC Chief Prosecutor and Ben Ferencz, Professor of International Law and former Nuremberg Prosecutor entitled, "A Giant Step Towards 'Never Again:' 10 Years of International Justice." For supporters in the D.C. area, Global Solutions.org will be taking a giant birthday card for the ICC to the National Mall to get signatures and raise awareness about the important work of the Court on July 17. Stay tuned for details!
Join us in an admiration of the values of the International Criminal Court, in an acknowledgment of its necessity in the world, in a celebration of its standing accomplishments, and in anticipation of its future commitment to justice. Happy Birthday ICC!