The International Criminal Court and National Courts: A Contentious Relationship

By Williams, Sarah | Melbourne Journal of International Law, June 2012 | Go to article overview

The International Criminal Court and National Courts: A Contentious Relationship


Williams, Sarah, Melbourne Journal of International Law


THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AND NATIONAL COURTS: A CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP BY NIDAL NABIL JURDI (FARNHAM, UK: ASHGATE, 2011) 303 PAGES. PRICE 65.00 [pounds sterling] (HARDCOVER) ISBN 9781409409168.

The ability to exercise criminal jurisdiction to try, and punish, those accused of serious crimes has long been considered an inherent element of the concept of the sovereignty of the state and, as such, has been zealously guarded by states. However, as notions of human rights and international criminal justice have developed, it is increasingly recognised that the sovereignty of states in this area is not absolute, particularly where the state concerned does not or cannot take steps to ensure accountability for those accused of committing international crimes. In such circumstances, states have accepted that sovereignty must be balanced against the community interest in ending impunity for such crimes and that accountability may be secured through the courts of other states (including jurisdiction based on the principle of universal jurisdiction) or before international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court ('ICC'). Yet this does not mean that there is no role for national courts, in particular those of the territorial state, in prosecuting those accused of committing international crimes.

National legal systems continue to be important for several reasons. First, the tension between state sovereignty and accountability means that many states will object to the imposition of an international mechanism or the exercise of jurisdiction by a third state as an unwarranted interference with the state's sovereignty. In order to better resolve this tension, there is increased awareness that the role of other states and international organisations is to facilitate and support the development of national mechanisms wherever possible so that the majority of crimes are tried at the national level. In addition to accommodating the sovereignty of the state concerned, this may also achieve considerable practical benefits, including better access to evidence and witnesses, a greater connection to the victims of and societies affected by the crimes, as well as building the capacity of the national system to respond to complex and sensitive crimes. Secondly, the selectivity of international criminal justice and the limited jurisdiction of international criminal tribunals means that such tribunals are only able to prosecute individuals accused of committing international crimes in a small number of situations around the world. (1) Many other situations remain unaddressed, in part due to a lack of political will to respond to such situations with an international mechanism or to confer jurisdiction on an existing tribunal. Thirdly, even where an international mechanism may be able to exercise jurisdiction, due to finite resources, such institutions are unable to try all individuals and all crimes committed within a given situation. Instead, the tribunals will concentrate on crimes of sufficient gravity or the senior leaders or individuals considered most responsible for the crimes. For crimes and individuals falling outside this category, national mechanisms may be the only means of ensuring accountability.

The relationship between national courts and international criminal courts has long been a potentially contentious one. When the Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ('ICTY') and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ('ICTR') it adopted a model of primacy, whereby national courts could be compelled to defer proceedings in favour of proceedings at the international level. (2) It was only as the ICTY and ICTR moved to implement their 'completion strategies' (3) that real attention was focused on how to build the capacity of national courts so as to receive some cases from the overburdened international courts. (4) When states negotiated the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ('Rome Statute'), (5) the role of national courts and the relationship between those courts and the ICC was viewed as one of the key aspects of the negotiations.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The International Criminal Court and National Courts: A Contentious Relationship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.