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International Criminal Court (ICC)

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

International Criminal Court (ICC)

Context: U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order authorising sanctions against individuals involved in an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

  • The order authorises Secretary of State to block assets in the U.S. of ICC employees involved in the probe
  • It also authorises to block entry into the U.S. of these individuals.

What’s the case?

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA.

The ICC decided to investigate after prosecutors’ preliminary examination in 2017 found reasonable grounds to believe war crimes were committed in Afghanistan and that the ICC has jurisdiction.

 Why the US is opposing?

Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked The Hague-based ICC set-up to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. He says, the Court has jurisdiction only if a member state is unable or unwilling to prosecute atrocities itself.

Besides, the U.S. government has never been a member of the court.

About ICC:

The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

It is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002.

Funding: Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

Composition and voting power:

The Court’s management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party.

Icj_vs_ICC

  • Each state party has one vote and “every effort” has to be made to reach decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by vote.
  • The Assembly is presided over by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.

Criticisms:

  • It does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
  • Critics of the Court argue that there are insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges and insufficient protection against politicized prosecutions or other abuses.
  • The ICC has been accused of bias and as being a tool of Western imperialism,only punishing leaders from small, weak states while ignoring crimes committed by richer and more powerful states.
  • ICC cannot mount successful cases without state cooperationis problematic for several reasons. It means that the ICC acts inconsistently in its selection of cases, is prevented from taking on hard cases and loses legitimacy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differences between ICJ and ICC.
  2. Geographical locations of these organisations and overview of surrounding countries.
  3. Doha accord between US and Taliban.
  4. What is Rome statute?
  5. Location of Afghanistan.
  6. US taliban peace deal- overview.

Mains Link:

Write a note on ICC.

Sources: the Hindu.