The Rome Statute

  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, commonly known as the Rome Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17th July 1998 and it entered into force on the 1st of July 2002.
  • After World War II, and some of the worst atrocities committed in the history of humankind taking place in the 20th century, the international community through the United Nations decided to take this action to bring the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against humanity to justice. The creation of an International Criminal Court thus became a reality.
  • The International Criminal Court acts as a permanent judicial body for the prosecution of the gravest possible crimes under International Law. According to Article 5 of the Rome Statute, these crimes are:

-The Crime of Genocide

-Crimes against Humanity

-War Crimes

-The Crime of Aggression (which comes into force and under the jurisdiction of the ICC in 2017)

  • The Rome Statue is thus a comprehensive text that establishes the ICC, determines its composition and function, delineates its subject matter, as well as its jurisdiction, codifies the crimes it tries and indicates the corresponding sentences & procedural rules, etc.
  • The ICC thus exists to fulfill two objectives- safeguarding higher values such as the protection of human rights, and ensuring the accountability of those responsible for the commission of atrocity crimes (as listed above).
  • A significant provision of the statute is the clear limitation of the Court’s jurisdiction to be complimentary to national jurisdictions, only proceeding with a case where a State is unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute the case itself.  It will not try states but rather individuals and will only prosecute those crimes considered gross violations as indicated in the Statute.


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Rome Statute (Full)

Rome Statute (Abridged)

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