The Rome Statute at Twenty (1998-2018): 10 Challenges for an Effective and Independent International Criminal Court

Paris, The Hague, 16 July 2018 – Prior to the anniversary day of the adoption of the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first of its kind, FIDH issues a briefing note which addresses 10 challenges to an effective and independent international court. Among the main concerns that FIDH points out are a lack of states cooperation with the Court, the absence of a single successful conviction for sexual and gender-based crimes at the ICC, an inconsistent implementation of victims’ rights, and hostile environments facing human rights defenders.

On July 17, 2018 the International community will mark the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. The Court became a reality in 2002 after having been ratified by 60 states. Now, the ICC has 123 member countries and runs preliminary examinations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Nigeria, Palestine», The Philippines, Ukraine and Venezuela. Presently, there are 11 investigations and a total number of 26 cases before the Court (see FIDH summary table).

The anniversary is an important occasion to celebrate the establishment of an international and permanent Court, set up to fight impunity, prosecute those responsible for some of the world’s worst atrocities and to deter commission of the most serious crimes of international concern. However, FIDH highlights that it is time to engage in a collective effort to bring constructive and positive attention to the work of the ICC. Reflecting on the Court’s challenges is an important exercise to aid the Court in its work in an increasingly challenging environment.

“We celebrate the remarkable accomplishment of having a permanent, independent International Criminal Court. At the same time, we are conscious of the various challenges facing it today, and the need for critical reflections to safeguard this achievement”

Karine Bonneau, FIDH Head of International Justice Desk

In the past few years, the ICC has shown little progress in achieving universality. Often accused of behaving like a region-specific court, its jurisdiction leaves numerous regions underrepresented, namely Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. India, China, Russia and the United States – world’s key powers, also fall out of the ICC scope. FIDH finds this quest for the universality at a standstill and calls for further actions in advancing the universality of the ICC.

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