The adoption of the Statute setting up the International Criminal Court (ICC), on 17 July 1998, has been a historical step in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes. For the first time, victims have the right to participate directly in international criminal proceedings.
The entry into force of the ICC Statute on 1 July 2002 has enabled the Court to exercise jurisdiction starting this date, to try individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed by individuals who are nationals of States which have ratified its statute, or who have committed crimes on the territory of such States. These conditions are not applicable when a case is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. In addition, the Court can only act when the relevant State is unable or unwilling to carry out investigations or prosecutions.
The ICC is a permanent court with potentially universal reach. Over half of the States have ratified its statute
. Although the United States
initially started an active anti-ICC campaign, its opposition has recently lessened since its strategy to undermine the Court has proven to be ineffective and its fears have proven to be unfounded.
FIDH has actively participated in the creation of the ICC. It has worked for the ratification and implementation of its statute by the greatest majority of States. It currently follows proceedings before the Court and contributes to the dialogue between civil society and the ICC, including through its participation in the international NGO Coalition for the ICC
, which has played a decisive role in the establishment of the ICC, and of which FIDH is a founding member; as well as in the Victims’ Rights Working Group
. In addition, FIDH contributes to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s preliminary analyses and investigations, by submitting -together with its member organisations in the relevant countries- communications providing information on the crimes committed in certain countries, and on the lack of domestic investigations and prosecutions. Moreover, FIDH provides concrete support to victims participating in proceedings before the ICC, through its Legal Action Group (LAG)
The ICC Prosecutor has opened investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (June 2004), in Uganda (July 2004), in Darfur, Sudan (June 2005), in the Central African Republic (May 2007), in Kenya (March 2010), in Libya (March 2011), in Côte d’Ivoire (October 2011) and in Mali (January 2013). His office also analyses the possibility of opening investigations in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Nigeria, Republic of Korea and the Palestinian Territories. The ICC currently faces numerous challenges, namely: reinforcing cooperation -which is yet insufficient- from States and intergovernmental organisations, making victim participation effective, implementing the principle of "positive complementarity", informing and sensitising the affected populations on proceedings before the Court, and finding the right balance between confidentiality of investigations and respect of the due process rights.