International Justice Day

20 July 2011 by Geraldine Coughlan

One might wonder why it has taken until 17 July 2011 to celebrate International Criminal Justice Day when international criminal courts have been established since 1993. Or whether there is any reason at all to celebrate International Criminal Justice Day, as the ICC has not yet convicted anyone. 

The ‘Arab Spring’ and the spontaneous turmoil it sparked across the Arab world has propelled the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the forefront of the international political stage. The court is now seeking the arrest of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, which would lead to a very high-profile political case for the ICC. Now Amnesty International is urging the UN to refer crimes in Syria to the ICC as well.

But the international courts, from Nuremburg to the ICC, have long been criticised as tribunals set up by the aggressor to prosecute its victims, meting out ‘victor’s justice’. And the ICC is often considered by critics as a ‘tool’ in the hands of NATO.

But international courts are set up to try individuals; they are unable to prosecute organisations or entities for breaching international law during military interventions such as in Libya.

Of course, that doesn’t stop people from trying. Since the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have both rejected cases brought against NATO for lack of jurisdiction.

Want to read more?

We have tailor-made memberships for students, individuals, groups of professionals and large companies and organizations. A subscription entitles you to receive the International Justice Tribune every two weeks as well as become a member of the Justice Tribune Foundation, supporting independent reporting on international justice.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
20 October 2011 by Geraldine Coughlan

The death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has sparked speculation about what this means for international justice. Obviously, the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in June, will die with him.

article
05 May 2010 by Thomas Bwire

Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luís Moreno Ocampo will be visiting Kenya next week as part of his investigation into the country’s 2007-8 post-election violence. Before leaving for his week long trip to Nairobi, Ocampo spoke to the IJT about the case.

article
05 May 2010 by Heikelina Verrijn

International judges and prosecutors claim to do their utmost to ensure that the practice of international criminal law satisfies fundamental principles. In practice, however, those principles often take second place to notions of human and humanitarian rights. 

article
11 April 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

The Security Council's referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been hailed as a giant step in the history of international humanitarian law. It has also been criticised for applying double standards by exempting the United States from the ICC's jurisdiction.

article
25 May 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt & Richard Walker

While all eyes are on Gaddafi, the International Criminal Court monitors 15 countries around the globe. She is working on 6 ‘situations’ and a dozen cases. But in the meantime, Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also monitors crimes in West Africa.