The International Criminal Court (ICC) is independent, permanent courts that prosecute an individual’s for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In addition, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes.
The court is not a part of the United Nations, but it maintains a cooperative relationship with the U.N. The official seat of the Court is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.
History behind the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
The International Criminal Court was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, so called because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on 17 July 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.
The Rome Statute is an international treaty, binding only on those States which formally express their consent to be bound by its provisions. These States then become "Parties" to the Statute. In accordance with its terms, the Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002, once 60 States had become Parties. As of 1 May 2013, 122 States are Parties to the Rome Statute.
Organs of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is composed of four organs. These are the Presidency, the judicial Divisions, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.
Presidency: This organ is responsible for the overall administration of the Court, with the exception of the Office of the Prosecutor, and for specific functions assigned to the Presidency in accordance with the Statute. It is composed of three judges of the Court, elected to the Presidency by their fellow judges, for a term of three years.
Judicial Divisions: This organ is consisting of eighteen judges organized into the Pre-Trial Division, the Trial Division and the Appeals Division. The judges of each Division sit in Chambers which are responsible for conducting the proceedings of the Court at different stages. Assignment of judges to Divisions is made on the basis of the nature of the functions each Division performs and the qualifications and experience of the judge. This is done in a manner ensuring that each Division benefits from an appropriate combination of expertise in criminal law and procedure and international law.
Office of the Prosecutor: This organ is responsible for receiving referrals and any substantiated information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, for examining them and for conducting investigations and prosecutions before the Court.
Registry: This organ is responsible for the non-judicial aspects of the administration and servicing of the Court. The Registry is headed by the Registrar who is the principal administrative officer of the Court.
Other Offices: The Court also includes a number of semi-autonomous offices such as the Office of Public Counsel for Victims and the Office of Public Counsel for Defence. These Offices fall under the Registry for administrative purposes but otherwise function as wholly independent offices. The Assembly of States Parties has also established a Trust Fund for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court and the families of these victims.