Atrocities. Impunity. Refugees


Now in its 12th year, the role and impact of the ICC have never been so closely scrutinized.

"Effectiveness" and "impact" have rightly become key words.

Civil society is urging the ICC to follow through on important reforms to increase its impact. But with the Court and the Rome Statute under constant criticism by powerful opponents, the strong support of governments and the ASP is vital to ensure the success of this historic instrument for the advancement of justice, peace and the rule of law.

With one hand states enhance the ICC; with the other they inhibit the Court. Budget constraints, failures to arrest and isolate fugitives, and limited take up in national prosecutions and voluntary agreements, all contribute to delays in the delivery of justice.

Similarly, the United Nations Security Council limits the impact of international justice in failing to back up ICC investigations and in its inconsistency in referrals to the Court.

As our cover feature highlights, the failure of the international community to address impunity for the atrocities wracking Syria has been catastrophic for the country and its people, and is contributing to a refugee crisis unseen since the Second World War.

It is time for more joined-up thinking.

With the adoption of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the international community has formally acknowledged that justice and the rule of law are essential for achieving the UN Charter’s goals of peace, security, and human rights for all. While the ICC and UN remain separate and independent bodies, governments must emphasize their shared goals of global peace and security.

The overarching lesson we can draw from this 70th anniversary year of the United Nations is that international institutions are only as powerful as their members allow.

One of the places the ICC has been most effective is Africa. One African diplomat stated that the reason the Court is in trouble there is because it is working. The message from our Africa strategy meeting in 2015 was that the Rome Statute continues to provide a critical blueprint for civil society to advance accountability and standards of good governance across the continent.

All actors in the international system must now acknowledge their shared responsibility in delivering justice, peace and development.


William R. Pace

Convenor, Coalition for the International Criminal Court.



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