International Criminal Court (ICC)
Origin. As far back as 1946 an international congress called for the adoption of an international criminal code prohibiting crimes against humanity and the prompt establishment of an international criminal court, but for more than 40 years little progress was made. In 1989 the end of the Cold War brought a dramatic increase in the number of UN peacekeeping operations and a world where the idea of establishing an International Criminal Court became more viable. The United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court took place from 15 June–17 July 1998 in Rome, Italy.
Aims and Activities. The International Criminal Court is a permanent court for trying individuals who have been accused of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and is thus a successor to the ad hoc tribunals set up by the UN Security Council to try those responsible for atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Ratification by 60 countries was required to bring the statute into effect. The court began operations on 1 July 2002 with 139 signatories and after ratification by 76 countries. By early 2017 there had been 124 ratifications. However, in Oct. 2017 Burundi became the first country to leave the ICC, citing bias against African countries. Earlier in the year, the governments of The Gambia and South Africa had reversed earlier declarations that they too would withdraw. The Court’s first trial, with Thomas Lubanga facing war crimes charges for his role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s civil war, opened on 26 Jan. 2009 and was not concluded until 14 March 2012. Lubanga was found guilty of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate in hostilities.
Judges. The International Criminal Court’s first 18 judges were elected in Feb. 2003, with six serving for three years, six for six years and six for nine years. Every three years six new judges are elected. At present the 18 judges, with the year in which their term of office is scheduled to end, are: Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy, 2027); Tomoko Akane (Japan, 2027); Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin, 2027); Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda, 2027); Chung Chang-ho (South Korea, 2024); Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria, 2021); Robert Fremr (Czech Republic, 2021); Geoffrey A. Henderson (Trinidad and Tobago, 2021); Olga Venecia Herrera Carbuccia (Dominican Republic, 2021); Piotr Hofmanski (Poland, 2024); Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza (Peru, 2027); Péter Kovács (Hungary, 2024); Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2024); Howard Morrison (United Kingdom, 2021); Raul Pangalangan (Philippines, 2021); Marc Pierre Perrin de Brichambaut (France, 2024); Kimberly Prost (Canada, 2027); Bertram Schmitt (Germany, 2024).
Prosecutor. Fatou Bensouda (The Gambia) was unanimously elected the second prosecutor of the Court on 12 Dec. 2011 and succeeded Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Argentina) on 16 June 2012.
Headquarters: Oude Waalsdorperweg 10, 2597 AK The Hague, Netherlands.
President: Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria).
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