The International Criminal Court remains a work in progress. Since it began operations over a decade ago, the court has handed down three verdicts, one an acquittal, all arising from atrocities committed by militia forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The court has encountered fierce resistance, first from the United States, which has declined to ratify the Rome Statute, more recently from a number of governments in Africa. The most substantial prosecution to date, of Kenya’s current president and deputy president, has faced numerous problems.
At the same time, limited by its founding treaty, the court has been unable to investigate some of the worst atrocities of our times—including the more than 150,000 deaths in Syria since 2012.
Will the court as we know it survive? How will it overcome its considerable challenges? What are the principal causes of its difficulties? What are the solutions? And what are the stakes for international justice?
- Carlos Castresana is perhaps best known for using the principles of universal jurisdiction to bring prosecutions against the Argentinean and Chilean military juntas in Spain in 1996, which led to the ground-breaking case against Chile’s former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet. He also served from 2007 and 2010 as head of the UN-backed Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
- David Bosco is the author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics, published in January. He teaches international politics at the American University in Washington DC, and is a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Formerly an attorney, he also worked with the UN/Nato in Sarajevo.
- James A. Goldston is executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative. He served as coordinator of prosecutions and senior trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court from 2007 to 2008.