Tilting at Windmills: Reparations and the International Criminal Court

Luke Moffett, Clara Sandoval

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Abstract

More than 20 years on from the signing of the Rome Statute, delivering victim-centred justice through reparations has been fraught with legal and practical challenges. The Court’s jurisprudence on reparations only began to emerge from 2012 and struggles to find purchase on implementation on the ground. In its first few cases of Lubanga, Katanga, and Al Mahdi the eligibility and forms of reparations have been limited to certain victims, subject to years of litigation, and faced difficulties in delivery due to ongoing insecurity. This is perhaps felt most acutely in the Bemba case, where more than 5,000 victims of murder, rape and pillage were waiting for redress, and the defendant was not indigent, but where he was later acquitted on appeal, thereby extinguishing reparation proceedings. This article critically appraises the jurisprudence and practice of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on reparations. It looks at competing principles and rationales for reparations at the Court in light of comparative practice in international human rights law and transitional justice processes to consider what is needed to ensure that the ICC is able to deliver on its reparations mandate. An underpinning argument is that reparations at the ICC cannot be seen in isolation from other reparation practices in the states where the Court operates. Reparative complementarity for victims of international crimes is essential to maximize the positive impact that the fulfilment of this right can have on victims and not to sacrifice the legitimacy of the Court, nor quixotically strive for the impossible.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages34
JournalLeiden journal of International Law
Early online date21 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 May 2021

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