Exploring the International Criminal Court: The Basics

What is the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

The ICC is the only permanent international judicial body to try individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It was established by an international treaty in 1998, the Rome Statute, with 120 signatories. In 2002 the Court came into being after the ratification of the Rome Statute by 60 states. The Rome Statute serves as an opt-in treaty that states must choose whether they accept its jurisdiction and decide if they would like to enforce its law.

Check out 20 benefits of the ICC

U.N. Security Council

The U.N. Security Council’s role involves referring cases to the ICC prosecutor for an investigation that represents a threat to international peace and security.


The ICC has automatic jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. This jurisdiction is under these specific conditions in which crimes are committed:

  1. On the territory of a state party or the Rome Statute
  2. By a national of a state party to the treaty irrespective of the location

The U.S. and ICC Relationship
Although the U.S. participated in the negotiations that led to the creation of the Court, they are not a state party to the Rome Statute. The U.S. relationship with the ICC has been highly complicated but often hopefully throughout the various administrations. Under the Trump administration, In 2020, the U.S. government issued an executive order that authorized asset freezes and family travel visa bans on ICC officials. Which also targeted ICC officials who were involved in the Court’s potential investigation of the alleged crimes of the U.S. in Afghanistan.

More recently, in the Biden Administration these punitive sanctions and travel bans were canceled. The administration made it clear that the U.S will continue to oppose the ICC actions in the Afghanistan and Palestine situations.

What is the ASP?
The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is the Court’s governing body. It provides management oversight and strategic direction, elects officials, decides the budget, considers non-cooperation matters, and can also amend the Rome Statute and other rules.

The ASP meets for plenary sessions at least once a year. These meetings discuss issues of importance concerning the ICC and the Rome Statute system. Here are a few topics that the ASP decides on:

  • Victims and affected communities
  • Trust Fund for Victims
  • Geographical representation and gender balance of staff at the Court
  • Election of Judges

To learn more about the topics ASP decides on click here.

From December 6-10, the States Parties to the International Criminal Court Rome Statute convened at The Hague for its 20th Annual ASP.

Key Takeaways:
● The Assembly elected two Deputy Prosecutors, Advisory Committee on nominations of judges, Board of Trust Fund of Victims.
● Five resolutions were adopted: program budget for 2022 and the ICC and Rome Statute system review, Group of Independent Expert recommendations, and strengthening the ICC and the ASP.
To learn more about the session click, HERE.

Take a look at their past events: