ICC judicial elections 2023 - All you need to know

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Election of International Criminal Court judges

ICC judges oversee proceedings, ensure fair trials and authorize victims’ participation, issue decisions in accordance with rules and practices of the Court, including arrest warrants or summonses to appear, among others.

Every three years, the 18 ICC judges elect a president and two vice presidents who constitute the Presidency, from among themselves. The Presidency has the following main functions: judicial/legal functions, administration and external relations.


ICC Judicial Elections explained

How do judicial elections work at the International Criminal Court? Watch the ICC judicial elections process explained in this video.

The necessary qualifications

Article 36 of the Rome Statute establishes the qualifications required for ICC judges:

  • Judges shall be chosen from among persons of high moral character, impartiality, and integrity who possess the qualifications required in their respective States for appointment to the highest judicial offices.
  • Every candidate shall have, alternatively, (i) established competence in criminal law and procedure, and the necessary relevant experience, whether as judge, prosecutor, advocate or in other similar capacity, in criminal proceedings, known as “List A”, or (ii) established competence in relevant areas of international law such as international humanitarian law and the law of human rights, and extensive experience in a professional legal capacity which is of relevance to the judicial work of the Court, known as “List B”.
  • Every candidate shall have an excellent knowledge of and be fluent in at least one of the working languages of the Court: English and French.


When selecting judges, ICC states parties shall also take into account the need for the representation of the principal legal systems of the world, equitable geographical representation, and a fair representation of female and male judges.

ICC states parties shall also consider the need to elect judges with legal expertise on specific issues, including, but not limited to, violence against women or children.

How are ICC judges elected?

The procedures for the nomination and election of ICC judges are outlined in articles 36 and 37 of the Rome Statute and in the ASP resolution ICC- ASP/3/Res.6 “Procedure for the nomination and election of judges of the International Criminal Court”, as amended by resolution ICC-ASP/18/Res.4 “Resolution on the review of the procedure for the nomination and election of judges.”

Nomination of candidates by ICC states parties
Judicial candidates are nominated by ICC states parties and must be nationals of a state party. Each state party can put forward one candidate in each election.

The nomination period for ICC judges opens the first Monday of the year of the election and lasts for 12 weeks. At the end of the nomination period, if any minimum voting requirement (see below) is not matched with at least twice the number of candidates fulfilling that requirement, the nomination period can be extended for a period of two weeks, for no more than three times in total. 

In order to nominate a candidate, states parties can follow (i) the procedure for the nomination of candidates for appointment to the highest national judicial offices in the state in question, or (ii) the procedure for the nomination of candidates judge to the International Court of Justice (Rome Statute Article 36.4.a)).

ICC-ASP/3/Res.6 establishes that official nominations of candidates should include detailed information on national procedures. Transparent and merit-based national nomination processes developed in accordance with international standards are key to ensure the election of the most highly qualified candidates. In order to further promote the transparency of ICC elections and national nomination processes, at its 18th session in 2019, the ASP encouraged States Parties to submit information on their existing or prospective national nomination and selection procedures to the Advisory Committee on Nominations of Judges (ACN). As of 14 March 2023, information on 29 national procedures have been published on the ASP website. At its 21st session in 2022, the ASP additionally requested the ACN to compile, in light of the submissions received, guidelines for the national-level nomination procedures to be presented no later than at the 23rd ASP session in 2024.


Election by the ICC Assembly of States Parties

ICC judges are elected by the Assembly of States Parties during its annual session. The upcoming elections will be held during the twenty-second session of the ASP taking place on 4-14 December 2023, in New York, USA (ASP22).

Each state party can vote, unless it has lost voting rights.

Voting takes place by secret ballot. To be elected, candidates must receive a two-thirds majority of the States Parties present and voting.

ICC judges are elected for non-renewable 9-year terms.


Minimum Voting Requirements (MVRs)

Voting at each judicial election is governed by a procedure aimed at ensuring that the ICC bench is balanced with respect to three criteria:

  1. Competence and expertise, or List A and List B;
  2. Equitable geographical representation;
  3. A fair representation of female and male judges.


To achieve this goal, the primary tool is the use of the  Minimum Voting Requirements (MVRs).  The MVRs are instructions that States Parties must follow when filling out ballot papers for their choice of candidates to fill judicial vacancies. The MVRs ensure the preservation of the balance dictated by the Rome Statute for the bench concerning gender, regional representation, and type of competence requirements. The MVRs are determined considering the composition of the bench once the judges’ posts become vacant. Therefore, MVRs are established specifically for every election. For example, if the end of term of a female judge would mean that the gender balance in the bench would be broken, then an MVR would be that States must vote for at least one female candidate.

During the election, MVRs are recalculated to take into account the requirements that the candidates elected in previous rounds meet.


Assessment by the Advisory Committee on Nomination of Judges (ACN)

The Advisory Committee on Nomination of Judges (ACN) is an independent subsidiary ASP body established to facilitate the nomination and election of the most highly qualified individuals as ICC judges. The ACN is composed of 9 members elected by the ASP for a 3-yeat ream renewable only once.

The ACN conducts a review of the candidates’ qualifications, skills and experience, and professional conduct, and provides an assessment dividing them into the following categories: "highly qualified, qualified, only formally qualified, and not qualified."

The ACN requests candidates to complete a questionnaire to expand on their qualifications and to participate in interviews. The ACN assessment is submitted to States parties at least 16 weeks before the election takes place.


Transparency of the election process 

To enhance the transparency of the process and raise awareness on the candidates’ qualifications ahead of the elections, the ASP facilitates public roundtables for candidates, that are co-moderated by states parties and civil society. 

Until the judicial elections of 2017, the Coalition for the ICC organized  public roundtables with judicial candidates to serve that purpose.

The Coalition for the ICC shares information about the election process and engages with candidates and other relevant stakeholders in order to raise awareness and increase transparency of the process, and ensure that States Parties make fully-informed decisions.


Vetting of judicial candidates

In a new development since the 2023 election, judicial candidates will be subject to an ad hoc vetting process to assess the high moral character of candidates, prescribed by the Rome Statute. The vetting process was developed by the ICC’s Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM).

The vetting process for judicial candidates is carried out by the IOM and includes:

  • A comprehensive review of background information, including reputational interviews with former employers and staff who may have worked with the candidate, and;
  • The establishment of a confidential channel for the submission of information on alleged misconduct, open until 30 June 2023.

This vetting process will be launched at the closure of the nomination period for candidates. Based on the terms of reference, states parties commit to support the IOM in retrieving information about candidates and in the dissemination of the confidential channel once it will be published.  Any concern on the moral character of candidates arising from the process shall be reported to the President of the ASP.