• The International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force on July 1, 2002. As of July 2013, the ICC had 122 states parties, opened investigations in eight countries, and issued two verdicts (Lubanga case and Ngudjolo case). Over the last decade as the court has gotten up-and-running, it has made significant headway in putting international justice on the map, giving rise to increased expectations wherever the world’s worst crimes occur. This was poignantly demonstrated by the signs held by Syrian anti-government protesters that read “Assad to The Hague,” a reference to abuses of the country’s president. But while the ICC is now the primary address for international criminal accountability, its daunting mandate and world-wide reach have made the flaws in its workings more visible. The governments on which the ICC depends to carry out its mandate have been inconsistent in their support, particularly when it comes to arrests. In June 2012, Fatou Bensouda was sworn in as the court’s new head prosecutor. Arrest warrants are pending for suspects in the Libya, Sudan, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, and Congo investigations. The court and its member countries face major challenges in meeting expanded expectations for the court in its second decade.

  • The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    July 1 marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first permanent international court with a mandate to investigate, charge, and try people suspected of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes worldwide. At the ripe old age of 10, the court has become a high-profile institution on the world stage -- central to nearly every call for international justice for the most serious crimes.

Featured Content

Reports

International Criminal Court

  • Sep 25, 2014
    The deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, which took over from African Union forces on September 15, is a positive step in enhancing civilian protection in the Central African Republic. But serious human rights violations continue.
  • Sep 24, 2014

    Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will begin hearing evidence to determine whether to confirm charges in the case against Charles Blé Goudé, a close ally of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

  • Sep 24, 2014
    One year ago, as the Human Rights Council was debating the report of the Independent Expert on Sudan, Sudanese security forces were violently cracking down on popular protests that swept the country after the president announced the lifting of oil subsidies.
  • Sep 23, 2014
    The latest hostilities in Israel and Gaza were the most destructive and deadly in recent history. Human Rights Watch has documented abuses including unlawful attacks on Israeli population centers by Palestinian armed groups, and our staff in Gaza documented unlawful Israeli attacks that killed scores of civilians there, and damaged or destroyed homes, hospitals, schools and crucial infrastructure.
  • Sep 11, 2014

    In several cities in eastern Ukraine, following the February 21, 2014 ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich, violence sporadically raged between pro- and anti-Kiev crowds. By mid-March, in several cities, particularly Donetsk and Luhansk, armed groups, initially calling themselves “self-defense units,” seized and occupied administrative buildings. Their demands ranged from making Ukraine a federation, to separation of their regions from the rest of Ukraine, to joining Russia.

  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Jul 24, 2014
    An International Criminal Court (ICC) decision approving Libya’s bid to prosecute former intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi comes down amid a near breakdown of Libya’s judicial system. Sanussi is currently on trial in Libya for, among other charges, serious crimes related to his alleged role in trying to suppress the country’s 2011 uprising, though the proceeding against him raises serious due process concerns.
  • Jul 15, 2014
    Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war. Israel should end unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives and may be intended as collective punishment or broadly to destroy civilian property. Deliberate or reckless attacks violating the laws of war are war crimes, Human Rights Watch said.
  • Jul 10, 2014
    It was a warm, sunny Sunday, July 6, and the Netherlands was celebrating the victory of its football team in the quarter finals of the World Cup. Hardly anybody was paying attention as the Dutch authorities put three Congolese men, whose asylum applications had been turned down by the Netherlands’ highest court a week earlier, on a plane and sent them back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When they arrived in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, the men were immediately taken to prison.
  • Jul 4, 2014