Law Essays – ICC Court Jurisdiction

ICC Court Jurisdiction

1. Introduction

The intent of this article is to analyze why creative activity of the ICC was necessary, why the provinces, and in peculiar the 1s with checked human rights record, still happen the system attractive plenty to fall in. In making so, this paper will see some general posits about the province engagement in international administrations and will so seek to spot from these theories the existent aims pursued by the provinces in fall ining the ICC.

In add-on, the paper will analyze the grounds and statements for the refusal to fall in the ICC system by the US and the alternate methods ( and their cogency ) the US has adopted in promotion of its ain involvements.

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2. Creation of the ICC and the inter-state cooperation theories

The chief argument environing the ICC’s creative activity is thatsomeof the provinces delegated adequate powers to the Court to subject, in certain fortunes, citizens ofallprovinces to the Court’s legal power.

There are legion theories of the province behavior on the international degree. Under the theory of pragmatism, “the province is maestro of its ain fate.” Under this philosophy, necessarily, the universe belongs to the most powerful provinces – their dominating involvements define the international decision-making and policy-setting.

Doctrine of rationalism takes a different attack and presupposes that “humankind is guided towards this capacity by law.” Under this theory, “ [ s ] Tate pattern is embedded in the establishments of diplomatic negotiations and customary international jurisprudence, which articulate an moral principle of coexistence based on autonomous equality and non-intervention.”

Natural jurisprudence philosophers and, in peculiar, Hugo Grotius advocate the binding and moral nature of international jurisprudence. For Grotius, “states [ are ] bound by and obliged to implement the cosmopolitan Torahs of nature.”

The thoughts that penalty of war felons should be cosmopolitan and exterritorial are non new. Theories of penalizing felons, who “by their character and frequence of their offenses, are a threat to public security everyplace and proclaim themselves enemies of the whole human race” , existed for a long clip.

Vattel observed that such felons “ [ might ] be exterminated wherever they are caught ; for they direct their black onslaughts against all States, by destructing the foundations of their common safety.”

These theories apply to the behavior of provinces. The construct of ‘state’ is important for understanding what thrusts and motivates the state’s behavior in international sphere. The ‘state’ is frequently equalled to the authorities, in most instances elected by the state’s citizens.

All the primary responsibilities, hence, are owed to the citizens. That’s why “obligations between provinces are ever imperfect. They can non adhere provinces, they can non be enforced… ”

Concluding observation is that international jurisprudence must ever be judged through the prism of world. The world shows that, “in a given sphere of administration, a province with more institutional and structural power may hold greater capacity to autonomously recognize its aims than a less powerful state.” This is the job that will ever rule international dealingss.

3. The US expostulation

The US expostulation to the ICC Statute came slightly surprisingly because the US actively participated in the dialogues and even signed the Statute, merely to subsequently retreat its signature.

The US’s major concern is that, under Article 12 ICC Statute, the Court has legal power over offenses committed by citizens of non-party provinces on the district of States. The US considers that this breaches Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties ( “Vienna Convention” ) which provides that “ [ a ] pact does non make either duties or rights for a 3rd State without its consent.”

The ICC Statute, nevertheless, does non use to 3rd states and as such, does non alter in any manner the recognized rule that states may prosecute felons on their district and, if necessary, “delegate this power to an international mechanism” .

The US seems to be prepared to hold on the cosmopolitan legal power provided it is exercised by provinces or is authorised by the UN Security Council. These statements for the state-level cosmopolitan legal power are, in fact, closely harmonic with the natural jurisprudence theories of Grotius. But this is the lone common land of the US policy with natural jurisprudence theories.

Another US unfavorable judgment is that the ICC ‘dilutes’ and ‘usurps’ the authorization of the Security Council. There is small foundation to this statement as the Security Council plays a particular function in operation of the Court, holding the right to mention affairs to the Court, every bit good as “the power to prorogue probes or prosecution for 12-month periods” under Article 16 ICC Statute.

The US further points out that the ICC’s procedural precautions do non run into the US accepted criterions under “Status of Forces Agreements and US federal law” . Again, there is small substance to this claim as “the just test warrants under the Rome Statute mostly satisfy US procedural demands, on occasion exceling them.”

The existent account of the US refusal to fall in the ICC might be much more prosaic. The United states policy is profoundly entrenched in a theory of pragmatism and in the gung Ho approach the American politicians so frequently adopt in international dealingss: “ [ a ] s such the American statement that determinations on international condemnable justness must stay with the UN Security Council can merely be interpreted in footings of an effort to keep great power hegemony over international justice.” Continuing the position quo and “ [ k ] eeping major determinations, including those on international condemnable justness, within the confines of the society of provinces is clearly portion of a scheme to keep hegemony.”

Practically, the US is besides badly constrained by the power hierarchy in the Senate, an elected organ responsible for signing pacts. Heavily depending in their policies on electorate, “Senators are loth to provide a potentially incendiary issue – leting an international court to hold nominal legal power over US military personnels – to possible challengers for their otherwise by and large safe seats.”

4. State confirmation of the ICC Statute

For a long clip, it was feared that sentiments expressed by the US in its refusal to fall in will be shared by other provinces. Legal power under Article 12 “was ruthlessly criticised by many at the clip who said it would destine the Court to impotence.” It was argued that engagement will be limited to “angelic States – the Scandinavians, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and so on” whilst provinces with internal struggles ( they really group war felons in which the ICC was created to undertake ) “would carefully remain outside the Court and thereby protect themselves from its reach” .

All the critics, nevertheless, have been proved stunningly incorrect, as the ICC has enjoyed an unprecedented and surely unexpected success so far. The most surprising characteristic possibly is accession by the States where the armed struggles occurred, such as Sierra Leone, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia democracies, and Afghanistan. There are now 105 provinces that have ratified the Statute, a batch of them holding a history of internal struggles.

Why are these States signing the Statute? The reply may partly be found in the authoritative philosophies of inter-state dealingss. Guided by the rules of rationalism and natural jurisprudence theories, the States are get downing to gain that some affairs, particularly every bit of import as war offenses and offenses against humanity, could be dealt better by the inter- or even supra-national variety meats that would guarantee independent and indifferent public presentation of the undertakings.

By giving a small facet of their sovereignty, the States are set to accomplish much higher aims confronting the international community. Protection of human life is something all of these State have in common and jointly proclaim to the remainder of the universe. These States “view the Court as a promising and realistic mechanism capable of turn toing civil struggle, human rights maltreatments and war.”

Article 12 besides seems to work as an enterprise for accession, non a repellant. Schabas observes that, in hindsight, the accession rate would unlikely hold been so successful had a broader, universal, legal power been adopted. He observes that cosmopolitan legal power creates small motive for the States to fall in in because “ [ o ] ne manner or another, whether or non States ratify the Statute, if the Court is based on cosmopolitan legal power, offenses committed on their district are capable to its legal power in any case.”

The current government under Article 12, despite the attack adopted by the US seeking to protect its hegemony on the inter-state degree, seems to strike the right balance between the aims of the Court and national sovereignty issues.

The ICC government besides deals finely with the province sovereignty issues and this is an extra ground why provinces feel less worried to fall in. Article 17 ( 1 ) of the Statute provides that a instance is inadmissible before the Court if a State holding legal power over it conducts its ain probe or prosecution, unless the State is unwilling or unable to carry through this undertaking. In fact, there are even suggestions that “the most important consequence of the Court will be to do provinces carry through their duties instead than put on the line the Court’s interference.”

5. Bilateral Immunity Agreements

The turning prominence and jurisdictional range of the ICC prompted the US to plan a manner around the Court’s authorization by come ining into the bilateral unsusceptibility understandings ( “BIAs” ) with other provinces. Ever since the ICC gained the critical mass, the US has been busy “cajoling other provinces – both signers and non-signatories to the ICC Statute – to reason bilateral understandings which explicitly aim at forestalling the resignation of US functionaries and subjects to the ICC.”

The understandings normally list individuals, such as ( former ) authorities employees, contractors and, most significantly, military forces, stationed in the other Party’s district, who may non be subjected to the ICC’s legal power. In add-on, the parties guarantee that when such individuals are extradited to a 3rd province, such resignation will be conditioned on the project non to subject such individual to the ICC’s legal power.

The US advances its legal statements claiming “that Article 98 ( 2 ) of the Rome Statute explicitly allows parties to the Rome Statute to reason such agreements.” Article 98 of the Statute contains a ‘fork-in-the-road’ commissariats which prohibit the ICC to enforce its legal power on the requested State if it requires such State to renegue on on its duties under international jurisprudence or international understandings.

The cogency of BIAs under the Statute is questionable. Van der Wilt observed that differentiation should be drawn as to whether the BIA was entered before or after the State’s confirmation of the ICC Statute. If the BIA was entered into after the Statute was ratified by the State, if “bilateral understanding efficaciously impedes condemnable probes of nucleus offenses on a national and international degree and therefore sustains impunity, the province party incurs duty for a breach of the Statute towards the other provinces parties.”

He farther argues that BIAs do non follow with the spirit and declared aims of the Rome Statute in that they expressly reject the legal power of the Court and “provide no warrant that the accused will be prosecuted by their place state” . Further, “the ICC will ne’er be able to judge the public presentation of domestic legal power, as the United States is evidently non under an duty to follow with any petitions under Article 89 of the Rome Statute to give up its nationals.” Finally, the classs of exempted individuals are much wider than the classs envisaged by Article 98.

Therefore, the BIAs entered into by the US with the States after they ratified the ICC Statute “are in dispute of the Rome Statute in general and are non compatible with Article 98 ( 2 ) in particular.”

BIAs are questionable non merely under the Statute – they undermine the very foundations of international jurisprudence. Article 18 of the Vienna Convention provides that “ [ a ] State is obliged to forbear from Acts of the Apostless which would get the better of the object and intent of a treaty” after it has signed or ratified the pact.

In add-on, Article 26 of the Convention codifies the cardinal international jurisprudence rule ofpacta sunt servandasaying that “ [ vitamin E ] really treaty in force is adhering upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.” The ‘good faith’ is the cardinal component in this rule seting provinces under duty non to get the better of the object and intent of their understandings by come ining into subsequent understandings with other parties.

As the US is non a party to the ICC Statute it can non be said that the US violates the Vienna Convention, but the States who sign BIAs clearly do compromise their duties under the Statute.

In add-on, the BIAs violatejus cogenswhich allows the prosecution of war felons “wherever they may be found.” Article 53 Vienna Convention provides that any pact conflicting with these general international jurisprudence rules ( such as BIA ) is null.Jus cogens“can be modified merely by a subsequent norm of general international jurisprudence holding the same character” and the BIAs clearly lack this rank.

The US tactics of sabotaging the Court’s authorization should besides be condemned. First, the US used its powers at the Security Council to secure acceptance of Resolution 1422 ‘requesting’ that forces involved in the UN authorised missions be exempted from the Court’s legal power. The US besides adopts ‘blackmailing’ tactics in securing these understandings with other States, which is difficult to depict in any other footings as the improper intervention with the Court’s activities.

6. Decision

The ICC establishes a new dimension in international jurisprudence with the States efficaciously give uping a portion of their sovereignty to prosecute a paramount aim that can merely be achieved by common inter-state cooperation. This could be best achieved by an independent establishment holding an absolute authorization within its defined legal power. Despite some concerns, the ICC proved to be a success with rank by over 100 provinces, in peculiar the 1s that have a history of struggle.

This supports the position that the ‘world society’ is in the devising and more and more provinces find it acceptable to give up portion of their sovereignty in pursuit of a baronial cause. In this visible radiation, the non-participation by the US is an unfortunate and unneeded flexing of musculuss, profoundly embedded in the impressions of pragmatism and provinces power which serve no nonsubjective terminals under international public jurisprudence.


1. Thomas W. Pittman, ‘Fair Trial Guarantees for US Service Members under Foreign and ICC Jurisdiction: A Comparative Analysis’ ,Eyess on the ICC, Vol 2, 2005, 53

2. William A. Schabas,An Introduction to the International Criminal Court, ( 2007 ) , 3rded. , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

3. Marc Weller, ‘Superpower V planetary justice’ , ( 2002 ) 152New Law Journal1198, via LNB

4. Harmen Van der Wilt, ‘Bilateral Agreements between the United States and States Parties to the Rome Legislative act: Are They Compatible with the Object and Purpose of the Statute? ’ , ( 2005 )Leiden Journal of International Law18

5. Adrian L. Jones, ‘Continental Divide and the Politicss of Complex Sovereignty: Canada, the United States and the International Criminal Court’ ( 2006 )Canadian Journal of Political Science39:2

6. Jason Ralph, ‘International society, the International Criminal Court and American foreign policy’ , ( 2005 )Review of International Studies31

7. Hedley Bull, ‘The Grotian Conception of International Society’ , ( 1966 ) in Martin Wight and Herbert Butterfield ( explosive detection systems. ) ,Diplomatic Probes: Essaies in the Theory of International Politicss, London: Allen & A ; Unwin

8. Emer de Vattel,The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Contract and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns, Washington: Carnegie Institutions of Washington, 1916

9. Hans Wehberg, ‘Pacta Sunt Servanda’ , available on Transnational Law Digest and Bibliography with the permission of American Society of International Law at hypertext transfer protocol: // pubdocid=129500

10. Information on State rank at ICC at hypertext transfer protocol: //

11. Human Rights News, ‘Opposition Mounting to US Arm-Twisting on ICC’ ,Human Rights Watch, 13 August 2002, available at hypertext transfer protocol: //

12. Charles A. Smith and Heather M. Smith, ‘The Electoral Dis-connection: Institutional Barriers to US Senate Support for the ICC’ ,Eyess on the ICC,Vol. 3, No. I, 2006, 1

13. John Burroughs, ‘US/ICC Relations’ ,Eyess on the ICC,Volume 1, Number 1, 2004, 147

14. Isaac M. Larbi, ‘International Treaty Obligations vs. International War Crimes ; Analysing United States Article 98 Agreements of the International Criminal Court in the Context of International Legal Principles’ ,Eyess on the ICC,Volume 1, No. 1, 2004, 177

15. Rome Statute available at hypertext transfer protocol: //

16. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties at hypertext transfer protocol: //

17. UN Security Council Resolution 1422, S/Res/1422 of 12 July 2002 available at hypertext transfer protocol: // OpenElement


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