The traditional focus of International Law has been upon the rights and obligations of states while International Criminal Law regulates the conduct of individuals and also punishes those who commit heinous and barbaric crimes against others. The most prevalent of these crimes include genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
After the end of World War II, the Allies tried Nazi leaders responsible for the massacre to demonstrate that such would not be permitted in future. In the absence of a permanent criminal court, ad hoc tribunals were established. Unfortunately, in the succeeding years, the world sustained atrocities without having recourse to any permanent global mechanism for the prevention and punishment of such crimes.
Consequently, a treaty establishing the International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome on July 17, 1998 at the Rome Conference. The court came into being on 1 July, 2002 as that was the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute entered into force and it can only prosecute crimes committed after that date.
Despite the court’s various achievements, it still faces some challenges. These include the refusal of the United States to ratify its treaty, the non-cooperation of states that are not parties, lack of universal ratification of the Rome Statute and a host of others. In spite of all these, the International Criminal Court promises a lot because it seeks to deter other war criminals from committing inhumane crimes against others. The court is widely acknowledged as the missing link in the international legal system.
On the whole, this long essay seeks to examine the International Criminal Court, tracing its evolution from the post-World War II era to the establishment of International Criminal Tribunals. The Court’s achievements and also the challenges undermining its successes will be discussed.
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