Creating new perspectives since 2009

What is the International Criminal Court?

May 20, 2024 at 2:46 pm

A general view of the International Criminal Court (ICC) building in The Hague, Netherlands on April 30, 2024. [Selman Aksünger – Anadolu Agency]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s office said on Monday it had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, and also for three Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Here are some facts about the ICC.

  • The court was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression when member states are unwilling or unable to do so themselves. It can prosecute crimes committed by nationals of member states or on the territory of member states by other actors. It has 124 member states. Its budget for 2024 is about €187 million.
  • The ICC is conducting 17 investigations, ranging from Ukraine and African states such as Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya to Venezuela in Latin America and Asian nations, such as Myanmar and the Philippines, according to its website.
  • The website says that there have to date been 31 cases before the court, with some cases having more than one suspect. ICC judges have issued more than 40 arrest warrants.
  • Twenty-one people have been held in the ICC detention centre and have appeared before the court. At least 17 people remain at large. Charges have been dropped against seven people due to their deaths. The judges have issued 10 convictions and four acquittals.
  • Of those 10 convictions only five have been for the court’s core crimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the others were for crimes like witness tampering. The five convicted men were all African militia leaders from Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Uganda. Terms range from nine to 30 years in prison. The maximum possible sentence is life imprisonment.
  • A prominent fugitive is Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March 2023. The Kremlin said the move was meaningless. Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during the invasion of its neighbour.
  • Although the court is supported by many United Nations members and the European Union, other powers such as the United States, China and Russia are not members. They argue that the ICC could be used for politically-motivated prosecutions.
  • Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognise its jurisdiction, but the Palestinian territories were admitted as a member state in 2015. In 2021, the ICC opened an official investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the occupied Palestinian territories. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan confirmed in October last year that the court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas fighters in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.

Ex-deputy Mossad chief: We lost the war in Gaza, achieved nothing