The establishment of the “International Criminal” Court has at last pro-
vided international humanitarian law with an instrument that will rem-
edy the shortcomings of the current system of repression, which is in-
adequate and all too often ignored. Indeed, the obligation to prosecute
war criminals already exists, but frequently remains a dead letter. It is
therefore to be hoped that this new institution, which is intended to be
complementary to national criminal jurisdictions, will encourage States
to adopt the legislation necessary to implement international humani-
tarian law and to bring violators before their own courts.
(Statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
United Nations General Assembly, 53rd session, Sixth Committee, item 153 of the agenda,
New York, 22 October 1998)
On 17 July 1998 the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC) adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The UN General Assembly had first recognised the need for such a court in 1948, in view of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials that followed the Second World War. Its creation had been under discussion at the UN ever since. The Statute's adoption in 1998 may therefore be seen as the fruit of some fifty years of effort.
As pointed out by the ICRC in the same statement quoted above, '“b”y adopting this treaty the great majority of States clearly demonstrated their resolve to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes, and hence to deter the commission of further violations'.
The Statute entered into force on 1July 2002. The ICC will have jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and