The ICC’s jurisdiction over international crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent court charged with bringing those who have committed crimes of the most serious nature and magnitude – crimes for which impunity is unacceptableto justice. The Court’s jurisdiction includes war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression. Established by the Rome Statute, adopted in July 1998, the Court entered into force on July 1, 2002 and therefore has jurisdiction over crimes committed from that date forward.

In order for the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction, the states concerned must have signed and ratified the Rome Statute. In those cases, the ICC can deal with crimes committed on the territory of a State Party or by nationals of a State Party. It is also able to deal with crimes within its material jurisdiction if a state, even one not party to the Rome Statute, has, through a declaration to the Court, consented to the Court’s jurisdiction over the crimes committed. This is the current situation with the war in Ukraine. In 2014 and 2015, Kiev accepted by declaration the jurisdiction of the ICC following the crimes committed by Russia in Crimea and the Donbass region. The ICC can deal with any crime falling within its jurisdiction regardless of whether or not the states concerned have accepted it, as long as it is referred by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission. In the case of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, however, the five permanent members of the Council must consent to the referral to the ICC.

In this video, Professor Muriel Paradelle explains the modalities of referral to the ICC against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine and its implications for international criminal justice.

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