Credit: ICC-CPI

What is the ICC?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first ever permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and, when defined, crimes of aggression, do not go unpunished.  The Rome Statute, upon which the ICC’s jurisdiction and functioning is governed, has been ratified by 111 nations and signed by an additional 38.  The ICC is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions and can be understood as a court of last resort.  The Court was created to achieve justice for the victims of atrocities, to help create respect for the rule of law, and to create a deterrent to future criminals so that such crimes will be committed less frequently in the future.


The ICC was created as a response to growing support for an international criminal court in the international community.  After several years of negotiation within the United Nations a conference was convened by the General Assembly in Rome during June 1998, where a treaty for such a court was to be created and finalized.  The Rome Statute, the treaty arising from the conference, was adopted on July 17, 1998 by 120 countries and officially came into force on July 1, 2002 after the 60th country ratified it. 


The ICC is composed of four organs: the Presidency, the Judicial Divisions, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.  The Assembly of States Parties, which is the management oversight and legislative body of the International Criminal Court, is composed of representatives of the states that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.


There are currently five situations before the ICC:


For more information or materials on the ICC check out our resources page.

Find us online: