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Institutional Paralysis: International Criminal Court

In the history of International Organization, we have seen the establishment of the League of Nations and its affiliate, the International Labour Organization at the end of the First World War. It was the first major step taken in the field of International Organizational Development but failed because of many causes but the main nail to its coffin was the refusal of the USA to join the League. This shows that when the major countries do not join the organization it makes the weak institutional structure.

Similarly when we see the International Criminal Court situated as permanent court mainly working to prosecute War crimes and crime against humanity. Formed after the Rome Convention in 1998, was also lagged the support from major countries like India and the USA. Which makes them ineffective when it comes to these states? But there are many instances in the short span of history that the ICC has worked effectively in resolving issues.

This article talks about its achievements, Failure and probable solution to fix the drawbacks.

For example in the decades of The 1990s, the tribunals of Rwanda and Yugoslavia set models for delivering justice. These cases proved what was impossible to imagine the Head of the The state was brought to trial another thing that happened, in this case, was that its other aspect came in front of everyone that is its object was not only to punish the offender but also to stop such crimes and atrocities.
It laid down the first an effective and robust mechanism for international peace and protecting human rights.

Inclusion of Terrorism in the list of Crimes.
Kampala conference in 2010 was a welcoming step which shows its pragmatic and flexible side to adopt the changing scenario.

There are many instances when the ICC could not take any concrete stand, some of them are stated below:
  1. Luis Moreno-Ocampo is the case: The Argentinean got recognition by revealing the corruption in the Trial of the Juntas, but he has been generally critiqued for his continuous failure which has added to the reluctance of the states. The ICC under the guidance of the ad-hoc tribunals, which were established previously, developed the concept of accountability.
  2. Gaddafi Case: The dictator of Libya, Gaddafi when the ICC opened up the investigation against him, it did more harm than good.

The court has a mission to grant justice and it cannot be put into action without consideration of the limits as well as the performance of the court. Therefore, the argument put forward by various quarters is that it is high time that ICC has to come up to the expectations and achieve the goal for which it has been established.
  1. U.S. � War Crimes in Afghanistan: After the 9/11 attack the U.S.A entered Afghanistan and violated many Human Rights when ICC started investigation the U.S.A opened up an investigation on the ICC officials which was hugely criticized by the ICC. America went on saying that the U.S.A is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and therefore ICC has no rights to investigate. The secretary of State called ICC as Kangaroo Court and Corruption at the highest level.
  2. War crimes in Darfur: This occurred when two rebel groups started the fight against the government as the government was biased against the non- Arab population. This fight leads to ethnic cleansing by the Government in this conflict leads to the killing of thousands of people. In 2005 the issue was raised in front of the ICC. The Sudanese government protested by saying that the ICC has no jurisdiction. The ICC due to lack of support could not take any step.

War crimes in Uganda: Joseph K. Kony, the leader of the Guerilla group in Sudan started its attack and in return, the Lord�s Resistance Army (LRA) retaliated. The investigation done by the ICC found out that LRA committed many violations of Human Rights. But the investigation in itself was under controversies due to various reasons.[1]

The major reason for its failure:
  1. No enforcement mechanism or Body
  2. Cooperation with the State
  3. No Check & Balances
  4. Biased towards West
  5. Scarcity of Human Resources and funds.
  6. No retrospective jurisdiction.

  • States should actively encourage cooperation with ICC and support human rights defenders working towards international justice and the fulfilment of the ICC�s mandate.
  • To enhance its credibility the court needs to broaden its ambit by including more permanent members of the UN and by strengthening of investigations and prosecutions.
  • ICC role is very important as international justice can contribute to long?term peace, stability and equitable development in post?conflict societies.
  • Having said so it is also important to know that the ICC actively works to build understanding and cooperation in all regions through seminars and conferences worldwide.

International Law in itself is evolving and dynamic and therefore any International Organisation needs a constant revamping and restructuring and ICC is no exception to it. The Critical Assessment of the Office of the Prosecutor is the need of an hour. There have been many instances when the ICC judges themselves have been going against the Prosecutor either due to their lack of investigation or research.

The lack of Participation from the world major countries is necessary because without their cooperation an effective mechanism is impossible and in recent past, we have seen they are boycotting it but at the same time, it has to maintain its independence by maintaining its fund and the dedicated team of professionals and its army.

It has been rightly saying, When human rights violations are not investigated and serious consequences do not follow. Human blood becomes easier to shed[2]

  1. Minhas Majeed Khan & Abbas Majeed, (September 2016) An Analysis of its Successes and Failures and Challenges Faced by the ICC Tribunals for War Crimes. (visited on 07/20/2020, 08:01 P.M.), from
  2. Dina Asad, Euro-Med Monitor Media Coordinator

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