Security Council referrals to the ICC: a politicised system

Amanda Kramer, Rachel Killean

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International responses to atrocity have often been subject to the criticism that they are motivated by political concerns, rather than legally sound arguments. International criminal law, while providing a legal framework within which to respond to atrocity, has not been exempt from this criticism. The post-World War Two International Military Tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo have been repeatedly accused of having exercised ‘victors’ justice’, and the Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have not escaped these accusations. While featuring independent prosecutors, they were still imposed on the relevant States by the UN Security Council, a political body made up of the dominant world powers. With the ratification of the International Criminal Court’s (‘ICC’ or ‘the Court’) Statute in 2002, many thought that a definite shift had occurred in favour of legal reasoning over politically motivated action. However, the ICC is by no means free of political influence; its relationship with the Security Council and the absence of worldwide ratification are both factors that limit the Court’s ability to pursue universal accountability.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBliainiris Éireannach an dlí idirnáisiúnta / The Irish yearbook of international law
EditorsFiona de Londras, Siobhán Mullally
PublisherHart Publishing
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781474201261
ISBN (Print)9781849466295
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2014

Publication series

NameIrish Yearbook of International Law
Volume7 (2012)
ISSN (Print)1757-8108


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