Mendes, Errol P.: Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court: A Court of Last Resort.

Author:Magnarella, Paul J.
Position:Book review

Mendes, Errol P. Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court: A Court of Last Resort. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. 2010. 215 pp.

The author, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, Canada, spent part of 2009 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague as a visiting professional studying how Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo shaped investigations and indictments. Mendes addresses the question of whether use of the ICC privileges justice over peace by hampering the later to achieve the former. As background to this question, he offers a brief survey of the various attempts through history (e.g., the Hague Conventions, the Nuremberg Tribunal, etc.) to achieve peace and international justice. culminating in the establishment of the ICC in 2002.

On July 17, 1998, the treaty (known as the "Rome Statute") to create a permanent International Criminal Court came up for a final vote at a UN Diplomatic Conference in Rome. By a vote of 120-7, with 21 abstentions, country representatives approved the Statute to create a court for the most serious crimes of international concern: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Statute came into force in 2002 when the 60th country ratified it. As of June 1, 2012, the Statute had 121 ratifying States.

The Court is headquartered in The Hague, and deals only with crimes committed after the Rome Statute came into force. Because the Court was created by a multilateral treaty, it is not an organ of the United Nations. However, the UN Security Council has a significant rote in the Court's operation by virtue of its authority to initiate or defer investigations.

The Court consists of 18 judges, elected to nonrenewable nine year terms by a two-thirds majority vote of the countries (the Assembly of States Parties) that have ratified the Statute. An absolute majority of the Assembly of States Parties elects the prosecutor and one or more deputy prosecutors to nonrenewable nine year terms. A fundamental principle of the Rome Statute is that the ICC shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions, meaning that the Court must defer to national judicial systems unless they are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate or prosecute a crime that otherwise would be under the Court's jurisdiction. The Statute allows the complementarity principle to be invoked by interested states and by individuals who have been accused of crimes This principle...

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