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The International Criminal Court (ICC), headquartered in The Hague, is the world’s first permanent international criminal court and a critically important institution in the pursuit of accountability for international crimes. This subject will involve a detailed analysis of how the Court interprets and applies the Rome Statute and will consider the Court’s jurisdiction, structures and processes, including the initiation of formal investigations, issuance of arrest warrants, confirmation of charges, trial and appeal proceedings. The subject will also address criticisms of the Court, explain the sensitive political environment in which the Court operates and identify major challenges to the Court’s efficacy. The lecturers both bring a wealth of practical experience and insight to the subject. Professor Alex Whiting from Harvard Law School was for many years the Prosecutions Co-ordinator at the ICC in The Hague, and Professor Tim McCormack is the Special Adviser on War Crimes to the Prosecutor of the ICC – a position he has held since March 2010.
Principal topics include:
- Background to and history of the creation of the International Criminal Court
- Scope of and limitations to the jurisdiction of the Court: substantive crimes; modes of liability; admissibility criteria
- Understanding the Court’s proceedings: preliminary examinations; formal investigations; issuance of arrest warrants; physical custody of accused; confirmation of charges; trial proceedings (including victim participation); sentencing; appeal
- Major challenges to the Court’s efficacy.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have a detailed understanding of the historical background to the initiative to negotiate the Rome Statute for the creation of the International Criminal Court and of the Court’s role and place amongst the world’s major international courts and tribunals
- Be in a position to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the Rome Statute – particularly the provisions dealing with the Court’s jurisdiction – and the major limitations to it
- Develop a comprehensive appreciation of the different phases of proceedings before the Court and the threshold tests and the onus of proof that applies in relation to each of them
- Have an advanced understanding of select International Criminal Court jurisprudence and be equipped to follow future decisions and judgments critically
- Develop an increased ability to engage in debate regarding the efficacy of the Court, the efficiency of its proceedings and the merits of its decision-making
- Become increasingly aware of the political sensitivities of much of the Court’s work and develop the capacity to take an informed position on policy choices confronting the institution.
Last updated: 11 February 2021