Established in 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an institution to ensure that crimes against humanity and mass atrocities do not occur with impunity. While national governments often have capable systems to enforce laws, in occasions of mass atrocity national governments are often unequipped to deal with such grave issues. These incidences fall far outside the capacities of most legal systems or even the system itself becomes compromised. Historically, in cases like Nuremberg for example, the international community responded to mass atrocities to prosecute individuals accused of such crimes. The ICC is formed out of that legacy with the goal of ending impunity for mass atrocities and bringing justice to crimes that warrant international attention.
On March 13th, the ICC passed a milestone verdict and convicted ICC indictee, Thomas Lubanga on charges of using children in armed conflict. This benchmark for the court’s success was reached at the court’s ten-year mark and is a huge step forward in setting precedence for international law and the prosecution of future ICC indictees.
The ICC is not without its shortcomings, however, as it is unable to carry out its own arrest warrants and relies on international governments to take initiative. Unfortunately, though any government is able to enforce a warrant, nations are often unwilling to be involved. The commitment of the US government (who is not a signatory on the court’s mandate) to aid in the arrest of Joseph Kony and top LRA leadership is a welcome sign of America’s increased engagement.