Criminal Law Forum

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 51–72 | Cite as

The Responsibility to Prosecute and the ICC: A Problematic Relationship?

  • Andrea Birdsall


The article addresses the links between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and the implications of their developments in the context of Libya and Syria. R2P as well as the ICC focus on the idea that sovereignty has evolved from being an absolute right towards including responsibility towards a state’s own citizens. This idea was applied in the case of Libya where military as well as judicial intervention was supported by R2P language but intervention in Syria to stop human rights abuses in a similar vein is not forthcoming. The article focuses primarily on the Responsibility to Prosecute in these two cases. The principles of ending impunity and holding individuals accountable for their actions are not questioned by the international society, but the main problem is how this can be done in a politically sustainable way. Security Council referral doesn’t seem to be the best option because too close ties with the Council will lead to the ICC becoming a politicised tool, moving further away from what it was designed to do: enforcing justice principles universally and impartially.


Security Council International Criminal Court International Criminal Rome Statute Security Council Resolution 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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