International Criminal court (UPSC Notes) | IAS Target IAS Target

International Criminal court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are reluctant or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer situations to the Court. The ICC is not a substitute for national courts.

Rome Statute Adopted 17 July 1998
Entered into force 1 July 2002
Seat The Hague, Netherlands
Member states 122
Working languages English, French
Official languages French, English, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Russian (6)

The Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty that serves as the ICC's foundational and governing document. States which become party to the Rome Statute become member states of the ICC.


The ICC is governed by the Assembly of States Parties, which is composed of the states that are party to the Rome Statute. The Assembly elects officials of the Court, approves its budget, and adopts amendments to the Rome Statute.

State parties

  • China and India neither signed nor acceded to the Rome Statute
  • 124 states are parties to the Statute of the Court
  • Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000 and recently exited from the ICC.

Assembly of States Parties

The Court's management oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, consists of one representative from each state party. 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 headed by a president and two vice-presidents, who are elected by the members to three-year terms.
The Assembly elects the judges and prosecutors, decides the Court's budget, adopts important texts (such as the Rules of Procedure and Evidence), and provides management oversight to the other organs of the Court. Article 46 of the Rome Statute permits the Assembly to remove from office a judge or prosecutor who "is found to have committed serious misconduct or a serious breach of his or her duties" or "is unable to exercise the functions required by this Statute".

Organs of the Court

  • The Presidency
    The President is the most senior judge opted by his or her peers in the Judicial Division, which hears cases before the Court.

  • The Judicial Divisions

  • The Office of the Prosecutor
    The Office of the Prosecutor is headed by the Prosecutor who investigates crimes and initiates proceedings before the Judicial Division

  • The Registry
    The Registry is headed by the Registrar and is charged with handling all the administrative functions of the ICC, including the headquarters, detention unit, and public defense office.

Jurisdiction of ICC

  • To prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
  • Complement existing national judicial systems and ICC take action when national courts are unable to prosecute criminals

Source of Funding

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

India's relationship with ICC

India did not sign the Rome Statute, and thus, is not a member of the ICC because of following reasons:
  • State sovereignty
  • National interests
  • Crime definition
  • Difficulty in collection of evidences
  • Problem to find impartial prosecutors

Criticism of ICC

  • 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.
  • ICC cannot arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.
  • Questioning of the fairness of its case-selection and trial procedures
  • Doubts about its effectiveness
  • The ICC cannot mount successful cases without state cooperation is problematic for several reasons. It means that the ICC acts inconsistently in its selection of cases, is safeguarded from taking on hard cases, and loses legitimacy. It also gives the ICC less value, as potential perpetrators of war crimes know that they can shun ICC judgment by taking over the government and refusing to cooperate.