December 5, 2021

The Role and Functioning of International Criminal Court

International law


On 24 September 2012, the United Nations General Assembly apprehended a Top Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels through which frequent delegates spoke about the importance of the International Criminal Court. In the Statement agreed at the meeting, States recognized the role of the International Criminal Court in a multilateral organization that purposes to end exemption and establish the rule of law.In my observations to the Assembly on 1 November 2012, a statement was recorded, which rebounded many earlier classifications of the Court’s role. Antagonized with the extensive enactment of unspeakable slaughters after the Second World War, the international community expressed a supreme call for justice. It wanted to put an end to such crimes through, inter alia, the acceptance of the Convention on the Prevention and Penalty of the Crime of Genocide, the four Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles. In response, the international community decided to take cooperative action by generating an organized system of international justice to avoid exemption for the worst slaughters known to mankind.

On 17 July 1998, this revelation emerged when States acknowledged a multilateral treaty called the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, under the supports of the United Nations. With the admission into strength of the Rome Statute on 1 July 2002, the first perpetual international criminal court, the International Criminal Court, came into being. The International Criminal Court contributes to the fight against exemption and the formation of the rule of law by safeguarding that the most severe crimes do not go unpunished and by endorsing respect for international law. The essential command of the International Criminal Court is to perform as a court of last alternative with the capacity to impeach individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national dominions for any reason are powerless or unwilling to do so. 

The International Criminal Court was recognized from a Treaty of Rome Statute. On 17 July 1998, 120 States approved the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which was approved by 10 other countries. The primary task of the International Criminal Court is to assistance put a termination to exclusion for the offenders of the most dangerous crimes of fear to the international community as a whole, and thus to subsidize the anticipation of such crimes. The International Criminal Courts head quarter is at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The Rome Statute lawfully came into force on the 1st of July 2002 after more than sixty nations approved this treaty. This Statute arranged down the substantial features of the International Criminal Court like general values and moralities, jurisdiction and dominion, role of the court, basic operational, etc. Over 120 countries have approved the lawful requirements under International Criminal Court. The Rome statute comprises 128 Articles and is bounded by both Functional and Practical laws for Criminal determination. The Rome Statute is an expedient of International Criminal law. This criminal law expedient is further complemented by Essentials of Crime, Rules of Procedure, Indication and Organization.

The key role of International Criminal Court is to arbitrate upon individual suspects of War crimes, Crimes against humankind and Massacres. For the past few eras, various countries have held the need of a suitable instrument that enforce laws that will grasp individuals responsible for grave International crimes. For example- in case of desecrations of the Geneva Convention, Massacre conventions, habitual laws for war crimes etc, national courts were anticipated to resolve the matter. This twisted misunderstanding as to which national dominion or jurisdiction must be referred to. It is also observed that in most cases, the National Courts were disinclined to entertainment on such cases due to widespread organized violence and most importantly due to the participation of States themselves. Thus, the International Criminal Court does not have worldwide jurisdiction or dominion. It only has jurisdiction over States which have willingly signed under it.[1]

There are some cases where the disagreements between States not considered by the Court. Then the Court can only hear an argument when demanded to do so by one or more States. It cannot contract with a dispute on its own inventiveness. The States involved in the disagreement must also have admission to the Court and have acknowledged its dominion, in other words they must agree to the Court’s consideration of the dispute. This is an essential opinion governing the reimbursement of international disputes, since States are self-governing and free to choose how to resolve their disagreements. A state may present its consent by Superior agreement where two or more States with a disagreement on a precise matter may agree to submit it mutually to the Court and settle an agreement for this purpose. A state may also present its consent by Division in a treaty where over 300 agreements contain jurisdictional divisions by which a State party commences to accept the jurisdiction or dominion of the Court should a disagreement arise with another State party about the understanding or request of the treaty. A state may also present its consent by Independent assertion where the States parties to the Decree of the Court may decide to make a unilateral assertion identifying the dominion of the Court as requisite with respect to any other State also accepting it as binding.

When a situation is raised to the International Criminal Court for examination, the Prosecutor regulates whether, in his or her estimation, the Court has dominion with respect to the supposed crimes. Following a detailed analysis of the accessible information, the Trial decides whether there is a rational foundation to advance with an investigation. Thus, it must establish whether the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes may have been committed and, if so, whether they were dedicated after 1 July 2002. The Prosecution must also determine whether any national establishments are leading a genuine investigation or trial of the supposed criminals of the crimes. Lastly, it must notify the States Parties and other States which may have dominion of its purpose to recruit an enquiry.[2]

The International Criminal Court has four Organs

1.      Presidency or the Head of the Court which consists of three judges designated by a complete majority of eighteen judges of the Court. Out of three judges one is the president and two are vice- presidents. Maximum number of terms of the judges is two to three years.

2.      Chambers for guaranteeing fair trials where the Court has three jurisdictional partitions Pre-trial, Experimental & The Petitions composed of seven, six and five judges respectively. The eighteen judges, President and the Vice- President are allotted to these chambers.

3.      Agency of the Prosecutor for leading inquiries and examinations which is a sovereign body of the Court. It commands, accepts and examines evidence on circumstances of international crimes within the dominion of the International Criminal Court. It eventually conducts examination on such cases. It comprises of three divisions where the Examination division which conducts enquiry, the Examination division and the jurisdiction, Complementarity and assistance division.

4.      Registry Supporting the Court where their main role is to assists the court to conduct reasonable and unbiassed public trials. It delivers Management and operation funding to the International Criminal Court.

The Operational Process of the International Criminal Court


Any State can demand the Office of Prosecutor to convey out Examination on a convinced situation within the jurisdiction or dominion. Even if a specific state is not a party to the Rome Statute, it can still demand the support if the International Criminal Court in certain cases. The United Nations Security Council can also mention cases to the International Criminal Court. The Prosecutor himself can take initiatives and present investigation in case of bona-fide evidence. This is the process of recommendations. The Prosecutor can choose on his own enterprise to open an examination if the Office of the Prosecutor accepts consistent information about crimes involving inhabitants of a State Party or of a State which has acknowledged the jurisdiction or dominion of the International Criminal Court, or about crimes dedicated in the territory of such a State, and accomplishes that there is a rational basis to continue with an investigation. Such information can be provided by individuals, diplomatic or non-governmental organisations, or any other dependable sources. The Prosecution must, however, obtain authorization from the Pre-Trial Chamber judges before originating an investigation under such situations.


The Court has a number of protective procedures that can be approved to witnesses who appear before the Court and other individuals at jeopardy on account of testimony given by a witness. The substance of the Court’s protection system is decent practices which are intended at concealing a witness’ collaboration with the Court from their community and from the overall community. These are working by all people coming into interaction with witnesses. The Court can also apply technical protective actions. Such actions may involve of face/voice misrepresentation or the use of the assumed name. Separate superior measures can be ordered by the Court for traumatised witnesses, a child, an elderly person or a victim of sexual violence. These can contain simplifying the testimony of witnesses by permitting a psychologist or family member to be present while the witness gives testimony or the use of a curtain to protect the witness from direct eye contact with the accused. Protective procedures do not affect the impartiality of a trial. They are used to make spectators safe and contented. They apply mutually by referring parties, the Prosecution and the Defence similarly. All parties are guaranteed by discretion and respect to protective measure, yet even when protective measures are functional, witness can still be interrogated. The Prosecutor analyses the situation mentioned and determines whether the case is within the dominion or not. He also regulates the type of a precise case. Lastly, the prosecutor informs the relevant State Parties about the Court purpose to pledge investigation.


The Office of Prosecutor pledges investigation and permits the gathering of evidence. The risk complicated for the safety of the victims and observers are of primary concern. The State parties also support in such investigations. The Office of the Prosecutor directs its investigators to gather evidence in areas where crimes are alleged to have been committed. The investigators must be cautious not to create any jeopardy to the victims and witnesses. The Office of the Prosecutor also needs the cooperation and support of States and international organisations. The investigators look for evidence of a suspect’s fault or innocence.

The International Criminal Court is reasonably practical and the measures are intelligible with most of the national jurisdictions. Most prominently it serves a great role in regulating the International Criminal Impartiality system yet there are a few criticisms

  Without the regulation of law, exemption reigns. By demanding violations of international legal customs and by promoting obedience to these norms, the International Criminal Court and the broader Rome Statute organization play an imperative part in proceeding the rule of law, thereby reducing exemptions. This role is critical given the nature of the precise standards that the Rome Statute concerns—standards aimed at avoiding crimes which threaten the peace, safety and well-being of the world. The performances and omissions which fall under its dominion are so heinous, so critical, that every determination towards their prevention is meaningful. Responsibility is important not only for the sake of the past, but for the coming future as well. Where exemption is left unaddressed, it provides productive ground for the reappearance of conflicts and recurrence of violence.

In order to effectually achieve its mandate, the International Criminal Court needs the support and assistance of States. The international community has, on numerous occasions, declared its purpose to end the exemption for the gravest crimes, and assistance with the International Criminal Court is a tangible way to give effect to that objective. As the International Criminal Court has no police strength of its own, it requires State’s collaboration for the enforcement of its guidelines and is entirely dependent upon them for the implementation of its arrest warrants. Unfortunately, numerous suspects subject to International Criminal Court arrest warrants have effectively escaped arrest for many years, disobeying the international community’s efforts to establish the rule of law at the international level. Political will to bring these individuals to justice is vital.

What are the rights and duties of victims before the International Criminal Court?

Victims before the International Criminal Court have rights that have never previously been approved before an international criminal court. Victims may be involved in the proceedings before the International Criminal Court in various ways:

• victims can guide information to the Office of the Prosecutor and request the Office to pledge an investigation;

• at a trial, a victim may willingly appear before the Court, if called as a witness for the Defence or the Prosecution or other victims participating in the proceedings;

• victims are also permitted to join in proceedings through a lawful representative; during proceedings, victims may contribute by giving their views and apprehensions to the judges; such participation is voluntary and permits victims to express an opinion self-sufficiently of the Prosecution or the Defence and offers them the opportunity to present their own apprehensions and interests;

• victims participating in proceedings may also, in some situations, lead evidence affecting to the guilt or innocence of the accused; they may also challenge the acceptability or the significance of evidence presented by the parties;

• lastly, victims can seek compensation for the harm that they have suffered.

   All parties to the trial may present evidence pertinent to the case. Everyone is assumed innocent until recognized guilty according to law. The Prosecution has the burden of evidencing that the accused is guilty beyond all rational doubt. The accused has the right to scrutinize the Prosecution’s witnesses, and to call and scrutinize witnesses on his or her own behalf under the same situations as the Prosecution’s witnesses. When the individual interests of victims are affected, the Court allows their opinions and concerns to be presented and measured at stages of the proceedings determined to be appropriate by the Court and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or unreliable with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial. Their views and apprehensions may be presented by their legal representatives.[3]

The United States stance on the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court is the first perpetual world court with nearly worldwide jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humankind, genocide, and possibly aggression. While most United States associates support the International Criminal Court, the Bush Administration decisively opposes it and has relinquished any United States commitments under the treaty. After the Bush Administration endangered to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution to extend the intermediation mission in Bosnia on the ground that it did not comprise sufficient assurances that United States participants would be invulnerable to prosecute by the International Criminal Court, the Security Council approved a resolution that would comply for one year of any prosecution of contributors in assignments recognized or authorized by the United Nations whose home countries have not approved the Rome Statute. This report summaries the main oppositions the United States has raised with admiration to the International Criminal Court and analyses the American Society of Public Association and other relevant legislation ratified or proposed to control the United States cooperation with the International Criminal Court. The report accomplishes with a discussion of the implications for the United States, as a non-ratifying country, as the International Criminal Court begins to outline, as well as the Administration’s efforts to win resistance from the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction for Americans.[4]

The long-term worth of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute system deceits in both the punishment of committers and the prevention of upcoming crimes. There is already evidence that it has made a momentous contribution in this esteem. As it enters its second decade, the International Criminal Court remains decisively committed to deliver an end to exemption and upholding the rule of law, stimulated by the common standards of mortality and humankind that the Court shares with the United Nations.


[1] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britania 

[2] Claire Felter, Senior editor/ writer, Council on Foreign Relations

[3] Sang-Yuan Song, Author, President of International Criminal Court

[4] Jennifer Elsea, Every CRS Report

Author Details

Deep Kathin, Rizvi Law College, Mumbai University

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