The adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 17 July 1998, which came into force on 1 July 2002, represented a historic step in the fight against impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes. It has now been ratified by two-thirds of the world’s States.
Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the ICC is a permanent, international criminal court with a universal vocation and the competence to exercise jurisdiction over those who have committed crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, where the States concerned are incapable of pursuing these individuals themselves or are unwilling to do so. In addition, the Court has jurisdiction in cases where crimes have been committed on the territory or by nationals of States who have accepted its jurisdiction, or where cases are referred to it by the United Nations Security Council.
For the first time in the history of international justice, victims are recognised as having the right to take part in proceedings and to obtain reparation. FIDH actively participated in setting up the ICC. It worked to secure ratification and implementation of its statute by the largest number of States. Through its permanent representation at the ICC in The Hague in particular, FIDH follows the ICC’s activities on a daily basis and contributes to the dialogue between civil society and the Court.
FIDH also feeds into the preliminary analyses and investigations of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC by submitting, along with its member leagues in the countries concerned, communications on crimes committed in order to provide grounds for prosecutions by the Court.
Lastly, FIDH pays particular attention to whether victims are able to effectively exercise their rights in Court proceedings.
The growing importance of the ICC’s role and the extent of its mandate have also highlighted the challenges it faces, such as the lack of cooperation from States, the limited resources for the year-on-year rise in the number of situations under investigation, the yet-to-be-specified modalities for victim participation, representation and reparation and the difficulties with regard to raising the awareness and managing the expectations of the populations concerned.