The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 1998 but only came into force on the 1st of July 2002 under the ratification of the Rome Statute, a treaty that put the ICC into force. Originally 60 States had signed the Rome Statute and as of 2011 108 States had ratified.
The ICC is independent of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) whose role is to deal with cases between States; the ICC has the jurisdiction to try individuals for the most appalling of crimes, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and because of this the ICC is considered to be the missing link in the international legal system.
The four aims of the ICC are to:
1. Ensure the worst perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes.
2. Serve as the court of last resort that can investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
3. Assist national judiciaries in investigating the prosecuting the worst perpetrators, allowing states to be the first to investigate and prosecute.
4. Help promote international peace and security by deterring future would-be perpetrators.
These aims ensure that the ICC compliments national courts and assists them in prosecuting these criminals and their jurisdiction allows them to prosecute these individuals when the state is either unable or unwilling to do so.
ICC proceedings can be initiated by the Prosecutor, a State Party or the UN Security Council and the cases are tried by three judges, where two must agree for a conviction.