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Public International Law Research

A guide that highlights resources and recommended strategies for conducting research on international law topics.

International Criminal Court

General Overview of the International Criminal Court

Creation of the ICC under the Rome Statute

The International Criminal Court was created in July 2002 with the entry into force of the Rome Statute. As of 2018, there are 123 states that are party to the Rome Statute, and thus are subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. 

The Rome Statute empowers the ICC to investigate and prosecute the following crimes:

  • Genocide
  • War Crimes
  • Crimes against Humanity
  • Crime of Aggression

In order to investigate and prosecute an individual through the ICC, the state where the crime was allegedly committed, or the state of the accused's nationality, must either be a party to the Rome Statute or have consented to ad hoc jurisdiction for that specific case.

Structure of the ICC

The Rome Statute divides the ICC into separate organs, each with specific responsibilities in the investigation and prosecution of cases. The following table outlines those organs and their essential functions.

Assembly of the States Parties Provides management oversight for the ICC. The Assembly of States Parties provides oversight for the Presidency, Prosecutor, and the Registrar of the court. This organ also adopts the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and develops the Elements of Crime. It is composed of representatives which have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute.
Presidency Conducts external relations with States, coordinates judicial matters such as assigning judges, situations and cases to divisions, and oversees the Registry's administrative work.
Judicial Divisions 18 judges are divided into three divisions - pre-trial, trial, and appeals. This organ conducts judicial proceedings, issue arrest warrants, order witness protection measures, and render decisions in trials.
Office of the Prosecutor Examines situations under the jurisdiction of the court, carries out investigations and conducts prosecutions against individuals responsible for crimes within the purview of the ICC.
Registry Provides administrative support for the other organs, including judicial support and management of court records, external outreach support, and management of the budget and security for the ICC.

The United States signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but it never ratified the treaty and has stated that it does not intend to do so. Thus, the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC. To read more about U.S. objections to the ICC, see this American Bar Association explanation.

Online ICC Primary Materials

Online Primary ICC Material

Core ICC Texts

The following collection contains the main legal tools that provide for the creation and maintenance of the ICC. These materials include the procedural and evidentiary rules for the ICC, outlines of the elements of crimes, and regulations related to the administration of the court.

The following are direct links to the three foundational ICC documents:

ICC Legal Tools

This collection contains the basic legal documents for the ICC, along with over 9,000 documents related to the negotiation of the ICC Statute, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and Elements of Crime documents.

Cases, Court Records, and Transcripts

The ICC has many of its trial materials freely available for download as PDFs in multiple languages. The filters on the left side of the screen allow easy discovery so that you can filer to a specific document type, decision type, or phase of the case.

If you are interested in Preliminary Investigations or Situations Under Investigation specifically, you can visit those web pages directly.

Secondary Materials

The ICC publishes articles about their latest updates and other current events regularly on their website.