Faculty Scholarship

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2013


On March 14, 2012, ten years after the International Criminal Court (ICC) became operational, and with around $900 million spent, the ICC delivered its first judgment. It has issued only thirteen arrest warrants. Is the ICC too slow and too expensive? The Kampala Review Conference held in 2010, seven years after the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) entered into force, could have probed a plethora of questions. Instead, it was a limited stocktaking exercise, leaving many issues unresolved. In 2012, the ICC marked ten years since the Rome Statute entered into force. Seizing upon this milestone, this Article is a contribution to the continuing assessment of the Rome Statute and the ICC. This Article asks: ten years later, is the ICC working effectively, and if not, in what respects can the Rome Statute and the ICC be improved?

Specifically, the outstanding issues that were not fully resolved in the Rome Statute and at The Kampala Review Conference include the following: Can the ICC, unlike the ad hoc tribunals-the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)-deal with situations of ongoing conflict, or, while pursuing justice, is the ICC just an obstacle to peace? Does the ICC, being a creature of a treaty, have enough checks and balances? Does the Rome Statute inappropriately expose nationals of non-State parties, such as the United States, to the jurisdiction of the ICC? In light of the fact that only one indictee has been convicted in ten years, has the ICC fundamentally failed in its objectives? In light of the fact that the ICC has failed to elicit the cooperation of states without which it cannot accomplish anything, has the Rome Statute created a toothless ICC? In light of the fact that only African conflicts are being investigated, is the ICC fundamentally a political and European institution bent on imposing its ideological view of the world on developing (African) nations? Did the Rome Statute overreach in its provisions regarding the indictment of sitting heads of state? Did the Rome Statute, in providing for the complementarity principle, overly defer to state sovereignty, allowing state parties to stall the work of the ICC Does the Rome Statute's provisions relating to the Office of the Tribunal's Prosecutor (ICC Prosecutor) essentially create a political institution incapable of impartiality? Should justice and peace be seen as irreconcilable objectives in the context of the ICC's investigation of ongoing conflicts? Can the ICC operate effectively without the support of the United States, the only world super power? Is the victim's participation scheme unduly complicating the work of the ICC?

To these ends, Part I presents the ICC's outstanding achievements; Part II presents the ICC and Rome Statute's outstanding issues; Part III presents the ICC's relationship with the United Nations over the last ten years and recommendations regarding how that relationship can be improved; Part IV critically examines how the relationships of the ICC and the United States and other non-party states have evolved over the last ten years; Part V reviews the extent to which the ICC has been able to forge ties with regional organizations and what promises such ties hold for the future ICC; Part VI details the Kampala Review Conference; and Part VII presents recommendations and a conclusion.