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Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Rome, 1998
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Objectives

  The Rome Statute creates an international criminal court for the trials of people accused of crimes the international community considers the most serious. Its purpose is to establish a fair and just international criminal justice system, with competent and impartial judges and an independent prosecutor. Unlike a tribunal formed for a particular case, the Court is a permanent institution. This guarantees that the international community can make immediate use of its services when atrocities occur, and deters people who would perpetrate such crimes.

Key Provisions

  The Statute establishes a Court based at The Hague in the Netherlands and composed of the following:

  • the presidency
  • an appeals division
  • a trial division
  • a pre-trial division
  • the office of the prosecutor
  • the registry

  Its judges will be people of high moral character and integrity. When countries that are party to the Statute select judges, they will consider the need for:

  • representation of the world's principal legal systems
  • infrastructure facilities
  • equitable geographical distribution
  • fair representation of female and male judges

  The Court is meant not to supersede national criminal jurisdictions, but to complement them. It will act only when national jurisdiction cannot or will not genuinely prosecute, or when the Security Council refers a case to the Court.

  The Court has jurisdiction over:

  • the crime of genocide
  • crimes against humanity
  • war crimes
  • the crime of aggression

  As for the crime of aggression, however, the Court will exercise jurisdiction once a definition of "aggression" consistent with the UN Charter is agreed upon and adopted in accordance with the Statute.

  In keeping with the principle of legality, the Statute specifies and defines crimes, such as:

  • murder
  • extermination
  • drafting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen
  • attacks against United Nations personnel
  • rape
  • sexual slavery
  • forced prostitution
  • forced pregnancy

  It also defines elements of crimes, which are meant to help the Court interpret and apply the articles defining the crimes within its jurisdiction.

  The Statute applies equally everyone, making no distinction based on official capacity. No one is exempt from criminal responsibility under the Statute, whether a head of state or government, a member of government or parliament, an elected representative, or a government official.

  Once a country ratifies or accedes to the Statute, it accepts the Court's jurisdiction. The Court may exercise its jurisdiction over a specific case when either the country in which the crime was committed or the country of nationality of the accused is a party to the Statute. A country that is not a party to the Statute may accept the Court's jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis.

  The Court can have jurisdiction over a crime referred to it by any of the following:

  • a country that is party to the Statute
  • the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter
  • the Prosecutor acting according to the Statute

  The Court's jurisdiction or a case's admissibility may be challenged according to provisions of the Statute.

  The Statute guarantees the accused due process and fair trial, in keeping with general standards of international human rights. It also provides for the participation of victims in the proceedings, and for reparations to them. Finally, the Statute provides for international cooperation and judicial assistance.

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