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The International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Dawn Rothe
Western Michigan University

This Web page contains excerpts from earlier works. For a complete account, my thesis is available at Western Michigan University, Waldo Library.


The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is hailed as the most significant development in international law to date. The development of the Rome Statute was a decade long process, eventually leading to official adoption in Rome on July 17, 1998. On July 1, 2002 the International Criminal Court became a reality with more than 120 nation/states attending the convention of the Rome Statute. Currently, 139 nation/states have endorsed the Rome Statute and 90 states have become ratified members of the ICC. A century long struggle to establish an international system of justice has been achieved.

Structure and Function of the ICC

The ICC consists of 4 Chambers: (1) the Presidency; (2) Judicial Court (An Appeals Chamber, Trial Chamber, and a Pre-Trial Chamber); (3) Office of the Prosecutor; and (4) the Registry. The Presidency is an elected office serving terms of three years and holds responsibility for the administrative duties of the court, excluding the office of the Prosecutor. [1] The functions of the Judicial Court are divided into Chambers, which allows the judges to be on more than one chamber if it serves the functioning of the court in a more efficient manner. The Appellate Chamber is exempt from this however, as an Appellate Judge is prohibited from serving on other chambers (Article 39, Rome Statute).

The office of the Prosecutor is a separate division of the Court that has the responsibility for the investigation of referrals on crimes covered by the ICC. The Prosecutor has full authority over the administration of the Prosecutorial Division (Article 42, Rome Statute). Cases brought to the ICC will be handled independently by this office, unlike the system used by the United NationsÕ Security Council where there must be joint agreement to charges brought forth against individuals for crimes covered under international laws and treatises. A state may refer cases to the Prosecution, or the Prosecutor can initiate the investigation based on information of a crime being committed within the jurisdiction of the Court (Article 14 and15 Rome Statute). The Assembly of State Parties (ASP) will further define the relationship agreement between the United Nations and the Court over disputes regarding how referrals will proceed and if the wording of the Rome Statute will allow an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, especially regarding the Acts of Aggression (Coalition for International Criminal Court- CICC 6,2002).

The Registry is solely responsible for the administrative and non-judicial aspects of the Court and for creating a Victims and Witness Unit providing protective and security measures for witnesses, victims or others at risk due to testimony given to the court (Article 43 Rome Statute).

The intention of the ICC is to provide an international system of justice that would address heinous crimes against humanity when a state is unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute any individual accused of the crimes specified in the Rome Statute (Mullins, Kauzlarich, and Rothe 2002). Crimes that are subject for prosecution under the Rome Statute are defined in Articles 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Article 5 of the Rome Statute lists the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC: crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression still to be defined by the ASP (Article 5, paragraph 2, Rome Statute). Crimes of genocide refer to “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group” (Article 6, Rome Statute). Article 7 defines crimes against humanity as acts that are widespread or a systematic attack against a civilian population. This includes acts of torture, intentional causing of great suffering to body or mental health, murder, and attacks directed against a civilian population. Crimes against humanity are not as inclusive as previously recognized Human Rights Law (HRL). The HRL applies in times of peace or war but is primarily conscious of protecting people against governmental violence against their recognized civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA. Res.217A (III0, UN Doc A/810 at 71 (1948)). War crimes are defined by breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 8/1949 (Article 8, Rome Statute). These include torture or inhumane treatment, biological experiments, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, and willfully denying a prisoner of war or other protected person the right to a fair and regular trial.

The ICC is limited in its investigative reach, being unable to subpoena any state or their records. While the Court may request a warrant or subpoena, the Prosecutor and the Court lack an empowered policing agency to ensure the fulfillment of either request (Article 54-58 Rome Statute). The Prosecutor is limited to requesting the presence of persons being investigated, victims, and witnesses. The Court must seek the cooperation of a state in fulfilling the ProsecutorÕs requests. It must rely on the compliance of a state or state party to relinquish any evidence, suspects, or witnesses that are relevant to the ongoing investigations carried out by the Prosecutorial Branch. The Court is unable to enforce its decisions without voluntary state compliance.

The Court has limited jurisdiction, inclusive only of a state party to the treaty or by agreement of a state not a party to the Statute. The criteria listed in Article 12 for the exercise of jurisdiction requires a state to become a party to the statute or accept the jurisdiction of the Court if the crime occurred on the State territory, its vessel, or aircraft, or if the State of which a person accused is a national (Article 12,a-b). No person can be held liable by the court unless the crime occurred within the jurisdiction of the court. Compliance by a non-party state is highly unlikely and non-compliance can act as a detriment to the ability of the ICC to be an effective measure of international justice (Mullins, Kauzlarich, and Rothe, 2002).

The Rome Statute of the ICC: Descriptive Information

The Rome Statute required sixty states to become signatories by December 31st 2000 (Article 126) for the Statute to enter force. That goal was far exceeded with 139 state signatories at the closing date.

The ICC consists of 81 states forming the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statue. The endorsement of the Rome Statute requires states to be signatories and ratified members. The ratification of a stateÕs signature varies with each stateÕs domestic legal system (e.g. the US would need the approval of the Senate for the international signature to be ratified). Support of the ICC stands to become stronger as the 139 states that have endorsed the Rome Statue with their signature become ratified members (90 states have become ratified members as of 5/2003) in accordance with their domestic legal systems. This number excludes the two states that were signatories but withdrew all support for the ICC: the US and Israel. A few states have failed to become signatories due to domestic strife, but are willing to participate in the ICC, such as Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Other states are adamantly opposed to the ICC such as the Libyan Arab Jamchiriya, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, and Myanmar.

The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) met from September 3-10, 2002 to establish the ongoing agenda, Rules of Procedures, and to elect members of the Bureau Tasks. In February 2003, the Assembly of States Parties began their first session to elect the eighteen judges of the Court. The newly elected judges then appointed the first President of the ICC, the Vice-President, and the second Vice-President. The Prosecutor was sworn in on 16 June 2003 followed by the Registrar on 3 July 2003 (CICC, 2003). On the first year anniversary of the establishment of an ICC all Senior Officials had been elected. The court is currently near completion of staff and able to proceed as an international system of justice. The culmination of a century of aborted attempts and contentious efforts had finally been achieved. Albeit, the end result of an ICC is less than many states had once fought for (universal jurisdiction and empowerment) it nonetheless represents a significant change for international relations and international law. The Preamble to the Rome Statute states that it is:

Mindful that during this century millions of children, women, and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity, affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and enhancing international cooperation, determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimesÉdetermined to these ends and for the sake of present and future generations, to establish an independent permanent International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole (Rome Statute, July 1999).


The mission statement of the Rome Statute personifies the new ideology of an international society (with common goals, values, and interests) and the ideological principle of universal jurisdiction (the Rome statute describes an ability to have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes but realistically has limited jurisdiction). Indeed, the ICC does represent a change in international relations and international law. The potential of the ICC to fulfill its mission to end impunity or to be seen as a legitimate body of justice is hitherto unbeknownst. The hope lies in the potential for the ICC to be malleable (Article 123) and to eventually fulfill the role of a universal system of justice, free from the inherent political nature of international law and international society. The ICC has the potential to change interstate power relations. The “weaker” states have for the first time a direct connection to the Court as a member for legal settlements or charges against more powerful states. The potential to balance the power differentials of the international society is a promising possibility for the Court. The pessimism lies in understanding the fundamental contradictions of an international society with independent states, divergent political, economic, cultural, and religious diversity coupled with an ideology of one society standing united under the rule of law based on universality.

Links To Other Sources Online for the ICC:

Amnesty International (2002). Available on-line at:

Coalition for the International Criminal Court. International Criminal Court Homepage (2002) Online

International Criminal Court Monitor. (2002) Online at

International Criminal Court Documents. (2002) Online

United Nations Library, ONLINE. (2001). Open Documents-May 1996, 1998 archives, 1999 Annual Report, council-meeting.


Other Recommended Sources:

Bassiouni, M. (1998). The Statute of the International Criminal Court. Transnational Publishers, Inc. Ardsley, NY.

Cassesse, A. (2002). The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary. Vol. I. Oxford Press.

Cassesse, A. (2002). The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary. Vol. II. Oxford Press.

Cassesse, A. (2002). The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary. Vol. III. Materials. Oxford Press.

Mullins, C , David Kauzlarich and Dawn Rothe (2002). “>The International Criminal Court and the Control of State Crime: Problems and Prospects”. Presented at American Society of Criminology, Chicago, IL November, 2002.

Sadat, L. (2002). The International criminal Court and the Transformation of International Law: Justice For the New Millennium. Transnational Publishers, Ardsley, NY.

Shelton, D. (2000). International Crimes, Peace, and Human Rights: The Role of the International Criminal Court. Transnational Publishers, Inc. US.

[1] For a complete and descriptive account of the structure of the ICC see Sadat, 2002; Cassesse, 2003.


Back to the “Old Ways”: Getting Students and the DCC involved in Activism

Back to the “Old Ways”: Getting Students and the DCC involved in Activism

Those involved in founding the marxist/radical/critical criminology of the late 1960s and early 1970s, were also often members of groups that engaged in various acts of protest designed to stimulate social change. These criminologists spent much of their time being activists. Their activism was shared with and by the college students they taught, and they spent at least part of their time engaged in activities that brought their social change theories to life.

Today, college students are not very active politically, and are very unlikely to be engaged in acts of resistance. In order to stimulate activism, I often design my courses to include an option to engage in a community activist project in lieu of a term paper. The assignments vary depending on the course. In environmental law and crime, the students are encouraged to map out hazardous waste sites and dangers within a local, economically deprived community, and set up a meeting to share that information with community members. Students have also become involved in the community by attending City Council meetings and becoming members of committees on community problems related to crime, justice or the environment. Students in one of my graduate classes, for example, became experts on water distribution rules and rights, and helped guide decisions made by Hillsborough County about expanded water rights requested filed by water bottling companies that sought to increase the amount of water they were allowed to bottle. The student committee, using information it gathered on the past behavior of the companies who had applied for expanded water rights in other communities, helped conviced the Hillsborough County executives not to expand water pumping rights. To spread the idea of activism, I have also served as the student advisor to a group that protested animal experimentation on campus.

This semester in my course “Crimes of the Powerful,” I have attempted to get students to establish a group that seeks to ban Coca-Cola from campus for its involvement in human rights abuses in South America, and for production of tainted (pesticide contaminated products) in India (on pesticide tainted products in India see,; on Coca-Cola’s potential connection to the killing of South American union leaders see, So far, the students are resisting. Their objections include an array of typical replies: “we are a small group or rather powerless people compared to Coca-Cola. There’s no way we can suceed.” They also were quick to note that Coke is served all over campus, and that many of the vendors on campus have a contract to serve only Coke products. I had two responses to these objections. First, I pointed out that the vendor’s contracts don’t produce an insurmountable situation; they just require that you think a little differently to accomplish your goal. If the campus food vendors serve Coke, one option is to make them part of the problem as well; boycott them and put pressure on them to change. A second option is to get them to stop selling any liquid refreshments. I pointed out, for example, that the food vendor contracts say that the vendors must sell only Coke products. The contracts do not state that the companies cannot suspend the sale of all drink products. Third, the students need an example of individuals or small groups of individuals who battle against big odds or big companies and win. There are any number of these that can be used. Perosnally, I refer students to the following sources of inspiration.

Free the Children. This book details the efforts of 14 year old Craig Kielburger (yes, 14) to fight aganst child labor. Kielburger as successful in his efforts, even getting to speak on the issue of child labor before the UN. Today, his international organization, “Free the Children International” ( is an internatinally recongized aid agency that helps kids get involved to change the world for other kids in need. Its an amazing story, and if a 14 year old can do it, shouldn’t college students be able to accomplish a smaller sclae project?

Ralph Nader. Not that it will tend to matter, but I identify Nader to the class as one of my personal heros. They know him because he has run for president; they don’t know about his activism which includes: (1) helping create automobile safety legislation in the US (Nader has been credited with saving the lives of more than 1 million Americans); (2) helping create legislation related to citizens’ right to know that helped produce the “Communtiy right to Know” Act related to toxic waste; (3) numerous consumer protection laws and ruling; and (4) founded/hellp found a number of groups to promote public activism, the free exchange of knowldge, and participatory democracy including:

“Public Citizen” ( to investigate government fraud and abuse;
“Essential Information” ( an information sharing group
“The Center for Automobile Safety” (
“Trial Lawyers for Public Justice” (
“Center for Women Policy Studies” (
“Citizen Works” ( to establish grassroot organizations
“Center for Justice and Democracy” (
“Center for Science in the Public Interest” (

Lois Gibbs. Lois Gibbs entered th public sphere when, as a housewife, she organized the Love Canal Homeowners Association to fight against the discovery of the Love Canal waste site in Niagara Falls, NY. Following her success in her loca community, Gibbs helped push for the creation of national legislation that would clean up hazardous waste sites. These efforts lead to the passage of the “Superfund” Act. Shortly thereafter, Gibbs founded the “Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste”, now know as the “Center for Health, Environment and Justice.”
CHEJ ( provides aid to communities attempting to establish grassroot movements for improving environmental health and justice.

In any event, it is my impression that these “old ways” that involved activism used to be much more prevalent on college campuses and within fields associated with more radical inclinations. In my view, using coursework in an inventive manner to stimualte this kind of activism is needed, and DCC members should make an effort to build activism into their courses.

Finally, I’m calling on DCC members to support a boycott of Coca-Cola products. This can be done on a personal level, by getting your classes involved, or by forming groups on your campus. The DCC membership and executives might also consider drafting a statement on this matter.


Summarizing the New US Census Bureau Report on Income and Poverty: The Rich Continue to Get Richer

Summarizing the New US Census Bureau Report on Income and Poverty: The Rich Continue to Get Richer

Michael J. Lynch

The US Census Bureau released new figures on the economic health and well being of Americans on August 29th in its annual report. Below I summarize some of the important aspects of this report. To view this report:

1. Real median household income rose 1.1% in 2005 to $46,326. Real median income is an inflation adjusted measure which indicates the income amount that divides US families at their midpoint, with one half of families earning less than $46,326, and one half of families earning greater than that amount.

2. Although real median household income rose last year, the rise was not sufficient to overcome the impact of the recession that ushered in the 21st century in the US. Real median family incomes in the US in 2005 remained 0.5% lower than real median family incomes in 2001.

3. Real median income values, however, provide a misleading indicator of how widely US citizens share in recent economic gains. For example, while real median family income increased, so too did economic inequality. Economic inequality is evident in several additional indicators.

4. Median family incomes vary significantly by race. The 3 year moving average for families of different racial and ethnic backgrounds were reported as follows: Whites, Non-Hispanic ($50,784); African Americans ($30,858); Hispanics ($35,967); Asians ($61,094).

5. In 2005, the poorest 20% of families earned only 3.4 % of all household income. The top 20% of families earned 50.4% of all household incomes. Clearly, this indicates a wide disparity in the distribution of income.

6. For the top 20% of households, average incomes rose by 2 percent, and the mean annual income for this group of families is now $ 159, 583.

7. Mean income for the bottom 20% rose at a lower rate of 0.6%. The mean family income for those in the lowest 20% of household incomes rose by only $68 to $10,587.

8. The report indicated that the GINI coefficient of income inequality rose to 0.469 in 2005. The higher the GINI coefficient, the more unequal the distribution of income. The 2005 GINI is the largest inequality figure recorded by the US Census Bureau in the 40 years it has issued annual reports.

9. The small rise in income for the lowest 20% of income earning families helped reduce the proportion of the population that lives in poverty by 0.1% (to 12.6%). The 2005 poverty rate, however, was 1.3 points higher than the 2001 poverty rate (11.3%), which indicated that the poorest Americans have had much more difficulty recovering from the early 21st century recession. Today, 36.85 million Americans still live in poverty.

10. Despite the rise in median family income, the median income for both men and women declined. Men’s median income fell by 1.8% to $ 41,386, while women’s median incomes fell 1.3% to $ 31,858. On average, women still earn significantly less than men (77 cents for every dollar earned by men). It should be noted that the rise in the male/female wage level that has occurred since the mid-1980s is largely the result of men’s wages falling relative to women’s wages, and not the result of a real gain in women’s wages relative to men’s wages. Also, the discrepancy between the decline in individual wages (women/men) versus the rise in family income is the result of income generated from investments for families.

11. According to US Census Bureau documents (, poverty thresholds are as follows: for persons under age 65 ($9,827/yr); for persons over age 65 ($ 9,060/yr); for a family of 4 ($19,484) (for other family sizes, use link). It should be noted that the poverty level value set by the US Census Bureau for individuals under age 65 is slightly less ($885) than a person who earns minimum wage ($ 5.15/hour) would make working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks.

12. There are important racial differences in poverty that need to be considered. During 2005, the poverty rate for Whites declined slightly (0.1%), to 10.5%. The African American poverty rate remained constant, though they continue to be adversely affected, and the proportion of African Americans who live in poverty was 24.7%. Like the White poverty rates, the Hispanic poverty rate fell by 0.1%. However, like the African American poverty rate, the Hispanics poverty rate remains significantly higher than the White poverty rate at 21.8%.

13. Poverty rates for other groups also rose. For female headed households, the poverty rate rose by 0.6 points to 31.1%. Likewise, the poverty rate for those over 65 rose by 0.3 points to 10.1%. Poverty rates for children, however, fell by 0.2 points to 17.6%.

14. The number of Americans without health insurance increased to 46.6 million, or by 1.3 million people during 2005.

15. Important regional variations exist in reported family income patterns. The rise in incomes was above the national average in Northeastern States (2.9%) and in Westerns States (1.5%), and below the national average in Midwestern (-0.4%) and Southern (0.1%) states.


Environmental Crimes

Environmental Crimes

Michael J. Lynch

The public has been convinced that the biggest threat to their health and well being is terrorism. This has legitimized a massive military build up designed to intervene in Middle Eastern nations. The war on terrorism and terrorist (WOTT) has helped drown out increasing bad news about the health of the world’s environment (from global warming to pollution and species extinction), and the shrinking supply of oil. At the same time, the WOTT has provided a means to satisfy the oil supply crises looming in the US.

These are issues students need to confront and which critical criminologists have largely ignored. To be sure, these topics have been the subject of critical research that takes globalization as a central concern, especially in relation to state crimes (e.g., the work of Kramer, Michalowski, Kauzlarich). However, the majority of critical criminology has become bogged down in issues of local identity and communicative expressions, which are symptoms of the extreme forms of alienation engendered by modern societies. The tendency to take these forms of alienation as an expression of real and meaningful developments in human consciousness has allowed much contemporary critical criminology to dissolve into fractured, discontinuous, isolated postmodern critiques that facilitate individualism rather than the unification of people with similar interests. These interests, for example, include the fight against environmental contamination (and for environmental justice), global warming, and the end of oil.

Important Links

See below for links you and your students can employ to investigate a variety of issues related to the environmental health of the world, looming crises, and the general decline in the health of the world eco-system.

The End of Oil

The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of oil. The US consumes 25% of the oil produced in the world while its citizens comprise only 5% of the world’s population. To put it bluntly, US society is an energy hog.

Since the mid-1950s, geologists have used world oil reserve and consumption data to estimate the number of years left in the world oil supply. The term “peak oil” or “Hubbert’s peak” is apply to the point in time where one half of an oil supply has been used. In the US, peak oil production occurred in 1973. Since then, US production of oil has declined because of a shrinking natural supply. This has caused the US to rely more heavily on imported oil. At the same time, the US has done virtually nothing to deal with the fact that its oil supply has diminished, and continual increasing demand for oil. This problem has been expanded by realization that the world oil supply has now peaked. At current levels of use, it is estimated that there are three to four decades of oil remaining in the world.

Use the following links and other materials to investigate the implications of the end of oil.

Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect

Is the world warming up? Most scientists agree that it is. What’s more, most agree that the cause of global warming is human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels.


The world’s climate and ecological situation is also tied to the health of the world’s rainforests. The health of natural species is also connected to the disappearance of rainforests. Learn about rainforests using these links.

Environmental Hazards, Chemical Data and Databases, and Health Issues

There are hazardous waste sites and toxic hazards found all across the US which threaten the health and well-being of US citizens. Much of this data is centralized on the US EPA website. In addition to the EPA, each state has its own department of environmental protections. Links to these sites may be found in R.G. Burns and M. J. Lynch, 2004, Environmental Crime: A Sourcebook. NY: LFB Scholarly. Discover more about these using the following links.

To make use of these data, it is also necessary to understand the health consequences of exposure to environmental toxins. A number of the links below direct you to on-line information related to health topics such as exposure levels, cancer rates and causes, and other relevant disease information.