On July 17, 1998, the Rome Statute established International Criminal Court (ICC) housed in The Hague, Netherlands. Since the establishment of the court, over one-hundred nations have become signatories to the Rome Statute. “The court has established itself as the permanent address for trials of leaders who order or instigate crimes against humanity, war crimes on a massive scale, or even genocide,” said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch’s international justice program.
Twenty years have since passed for the adoption of the Rome Statute, providing an opportunity for autopsy on the Court, and its standing within the international community. There are very few ways by which a prosecutor can make their case onto the docket of the ICC, with one of them being referral by the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council attempted to refer potential criminal activity in the ongoing crisis in Syria to the ICC in 2014, but several members vetoed that referral. The only other way that the case can be placed on the ICC docket is if the nation is a signatory to the Rome Statute, but not all nations are currently party to it.
Because of the limited access to the Court, very few high profile cases have been settled by the Court itself. What is more laudable is how it has integrated itself readily into the international community of accountability mechanisms. Simply, the existence of the Court could be the best deterrent, and not necessarily the settlement of cases. The next twenty years hold a great opportunity for the Court to establish itself as a source of relief for those who have no other outlet for reparations for war crimes, and other high-level criminal activity.