Opening its doors on July 1, 2012 pursuant to the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the world’s first permanent court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Currently 122 countries are Party to the Rome Statute. As of October 2013, the ICC is adjudicating 20 cases in 8 situations around the world and conducting preliminary investigations in Afghanistan, Georgia, Guinea, Colombia, Honduras, Korea, and Nigeria.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
Commonly referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is a special Cambodian court backed by the United Nations responsible for prosecuting alleged perpetrators of grave violations of international law committed between April 1975 and January 1979. The ECCC is an ad hoc tribunal established by domestic Cambodian law but maintains a strong hybrid connection to the United Nations.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was established jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. The Court is mandated to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and domestic Sierra Leonean law committed within the country since 30 November 1996.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established to adjudicate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict in the Balkans during the 1990’s. The ICTY has served as a successful model for other ad hoc international criminal tribunals, its rulings producing a broad and deep set of legal precedents concerning international humanitarian law issues. As of May 2013, 69 individuals have been convicted by the Court.
Established pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 955 of 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is mandated to prosecute persons alleged to have committed genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict within Rwanda from January 1, 1994 – December 31, 1994. The court is guided by a desire to build cooperative partnerships with other African countries, strengthen social and political institutions, and bring an end to the culture of impunity prevalent throughout the region.
Mandated to investigate and prosecute those accused of assassinating former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri and killing 23 others during an attack on February 14, 2005, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is a hybrid court with international character. The STL is the only international court with jurisdiction to prosecute violations under domestic Lebanese law and is the first tribunal to prosecute alleged criminals for crimes of terrorism.
The newest international court, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal was established to facilitate the completion of cases pending at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Among other essential functions, the “Residual Mechanism” is responsible for tracking and prosecuting remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTY and ICTRY, reviewing orders of these courts, conducting and completing appellate proceedings, protecting victims and witnesses, and supervising the enforcement of sentences.