International Criminal Court

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The International Criminal Court (French: Cour Pénale Internationale; commonly referred to as the ICC or ICCt)[1] is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although it cannot currently exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression).[2][3]

The creation of the ICC perhaps constitutes the most significant reform of international law since 1945. It gives teeth to the two bodies of international law that deal with treatment of individuals: human rights and humanitarian law.

The court came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force[4]—and it can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date.[5] The official seat of the court is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.[6]

As of October 2010, 114 states are members of the Court.[7][8][9] Moldova, which ratified the ICC Statute on 11 October 2010, will become the 114th state party on 1 January 2011. [10] A further 34 countries, including Russia have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.[7] The United States signed on December 31, 2000, but that signature was withdrawn under the Bush administration on May 6, 2002.[11] A number of states, including China and India are critical of the court and have not signed the Rome Statute. The ICC can generally exercise jurisdiction only in cases where the accused is a national of a state party, the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or a situation is referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council.[12] The court is designed to complement existing national judicial systems: it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.[13][14] Primary responsibility to investigate and punish crimes is therefore left to individual states.[15]

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