Experts: ICC must show it will go after powerful states

27 January 2016 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

IJT asked legal experts William Schabas and Evelyn Ankumah how they thought the ICC was doing and what remains needed. Schabas is optimistic and Ankumah shares a more reserved view. Both agree that the court must start showing it is not afraid to pursue alleged suspects from powerful states. 

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addresses the UN Security Council in November 2015 (Photo: Flickr/IICC-CPI)
Image caption: 
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addresses the UN Security Council in November 2015 (Photo: Flickr/IICC-CPI)

William Schabas (WS) is a professor of international law at Middlesex University and a professor of international criminal law and human rights at Leiden University.

Is the ICC in a better shape than it was a few years ago?

WS: Yes, absolutely: it’s solving some of the problems it had, say, four of five years ago, with cases that were probably not wisely chosen. Everything has taken a lot longer to fall into place than we thought, even the new building. We should have had the new building 10 years ago – it’s unbelievable that it’s taken 17 years for the Dutch to build it. But these things have been sorted out.

What’s the most positive recent development?

WS: The most interesting thing is that the court is now visibly investigating atrocities in various parts of the globe where the suspects are from powerful states.

Can you imagine a leader from one of the UN Security Council’s permanent members ever in the dock?

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