Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

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Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court
Short title: Rome Statute
Title (engl.): Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court
Date: July 17, 1998
Come into effect: July 1, 2002
Reference: Chapter XVIII 10. UNTC (English text)
Reference (German): BGBl. 2000 II p. 1393
BGBl. III No. 180/2002
SR 0.312.1
Contract type: Multinational
Legal matter: International Criminal Law , International Justice
Signing: 139
Ratification : 124 ( as of July 11, 2016 )

Germany: Ratification (December 11, 2000)
Liechtenstein: Ratification (Oct. 2, 2001)
Austria: Ratification (Dec. 28, 2000)
Switzerland: Ratification (October 12, 2001)
Please note the note on the applicable contract version .

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (in Switzerland and Liechtenstein the Roman Statute of the International Criminal Court , often referred to simply as the Rome Statute ) is the contractual basis of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague .


Efforts to establish an international criminal court date back to the interwar period . After the First World War and against the background of the Versailles peace negotiations , allied powers and powers allied with them wanted to bring proceedings against individual Germans who had played a key role in the warfare of the German Reich . This project failed, but as a result international international criminal lawyers formed to force the establishment of an international criminal court with different drive depending on their origin - the attempt of this group failed in 1937 with the international rejection of a corresponding initiative of the League of Nations . A characteristic of the earlier efforts to establish a transnational criminal court was the fact that the protection of state structures and their sovereignty against external aggression took precedence over the protection of the individual from the own state. In this sense, the Nuremberg Trials of 1945 also dealt with the punishment of participation in wars of aggression and war crimes , i.e. crimes in the interstate area. Crimes against humanity were only prosecuted if they could be linked to a war of aggression or war crimes. Against the background of the Cold War , attempts to set up a criminal court failed because of resistance, particularly from the USA and the Soviet Union ; not least because they feared that their own behavior could become the subject of an international criminal tribunal. Then in the 1970s the human rights movement became a major player in international relations. The idea of ​​international criminal law was strengthened again. The human rights movement also drew more public attention to human rights violations that were committed beyond wars by governments against their own people. The amnesty policy of former dictatorial states like u. a. Argentina , Uruguay or Portugal , vis-à-vis former government officials who made it impossible to prosecute their crimes, ensured that the human rights movement had made greater efforts to overcome domestic political hurdles in punishing human rights violations since the late 1980s. After the end of the Cold War, governments also discovered international criminal law for themselves, including the USA, which has not yet ratified the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute is also based on numerous resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations , which called for the codification of principles on the punishment of war crimes and crimes against humanity , as well as various preparatory work by the International Law Commission . In June and July 1998 a conference of states took place in Rome, which adopted the statute drawn up there on July 17, 1998. It could then be signed by December 31, 2000 - a possibility that a total of 139 states made use of. Since then, membership has been or is still possible.

According to Art. 126, the Statute enters into force on the first day of the month following the sixtieth day after the deposit of the sixtieth instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary General of the United Nations . This condition was fulfilled when on April 11, 2002 ten states deposited their instruments of ratification at the same time, so that the statute could come into force on July 1, 2002.

Contracting States

Green: Member States
Yellow: Signed but not ratified
Purple: Former Member States (resigned)
Orange: Signed but signature withdrawn
Red: Neither signed nor acceded

123 states have acceded to the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC). These are 34 African, 28 South, Central and North American countries, 11 Asian, 41 European and 8 oceanic countries. 31 states signed the statute but did not ratify it. Of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, the USA, Russia and the People's Republic of China did not ratify the statute.

The US government signed the ICC Statute in 2000. At the same time, President Bill Clinton argued that he did not want to ratify the Rome Statute as long as the US was not given sufficient opportunity to review the International Criminal Court and its functioning over a longer period of time. In 2002 the US government declared the withdrawal of the signature, which was unusual under international law but permissible, and also enacted the American Service Members' Protection Act on August 2, 2002 to protect US citizens from the ICC. Israel joined the US behavior and subsequently withdrew its signature.

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 121 have acceded to the statute (the Cook Islands are not a UN member state; the Palestinian territories are states with observer status), 31 have signed but not ratified it, and 41 have not signed the statute.


The ICC Statute lays down the function and structure of the court, as well as the rules for its jurisdiction , to deal with the worst crimes committed by individuals. In particular, it establishes a jurisdiction for the prosecution of genocide , crimes against humanity , war crimes as well as the crimes of aggression . The jurisdiction of the Court is still limited to crimes committed in the territory of a Contracting State or by a national of a Contracting State and after the entry into force of the Statute. However, this only applies on the condition that the competent national criminal jurisdiction is not conducting an investigation or has conducted an appropriate investigation or is unwilling or unable to conduct an appropriate criminal prosecution . A referral of a case to the ICC by the UN Security Council is a special case. In such a case, neither the principle of territoriality nor the principle of personality is necessary for the ICC to be responsible. It is controversial among international lawyers whether a referral from the Security Council also requires the inaction of national courts. The ICC statute, which ICC judge Hans-Peter Kaul classifies as the most important international treaty alongside the UN Charter , also lays down the general principles of criminal law applicable to the court, such as nulla poena sine lege , non-retroactivity , and individual criminal liability , Irrelevance of the official capacity.

Assembly of the Contracting States and further development of the Statute

Assembly of States Parties

The ICC is institutionally supervised by the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute. It meets once a year at the headquarters of the IstGH or the UN. Each contracting state has a voting representative. States that have signed the Rome Statute or the Final Act can attend the assembly as observers.

The assembly has in particular the administrative supervision of the presidium, the prosecutor and the chancellor of the ICC, it decides on the budget of the ICC and makes recommendations. It elects the prosecutor and the 18 judges of the court. It is also responsible for issuing the rules of procedure.

The first conference took place in September 2002 in New York. The 1st Review Conference of the Rome Statute met from May 31 to June 11, 2010 in Kampala (Uganda). The so far last (the 12th) assembly from 20 to 28 November 2013 in The Hague was under massive political pressure from the African signatory states. They enforced an exception to the duty of the defendant to be present in the ICC procedural rules. Defendants who perform “extraordinary public obligations at the highest national level” can now be represented by a lawyer.

Changes to the statute

Changes to the Statute are governed by the procedures set out in Articles 121 and 122. An amendment must in turn be ratified by a contracting state in order for it to come into force for it.

Two amendments to the Rome Statute were unanimously adopted by the States parties at the 1st Review Conference in Kampala. These are the amendments to Article 8 adopted on June 10, 2010 and the amendments relating to the crime of aggression adopted on June 11, 2010 .


  • Otto Triffterer (Ed.): Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Observers' Notes, Article by Article. 2nd Edition. CH Beck et al., Munich et al. 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57841-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hannah Lea Pfeiffer: The Rome Statute. In: Sources on the history of human rights. Working Group on Human Rights in the 20th Century, May 2015, accessed on January 11, 2017 .
  2. Meret Baumann: How a “Last Judgment” came into being on the outskirts of The Hague . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung - International Edition , Saturday, June 30, 2012 (No. 150), p. 9.
  3. a b B [eat] A [mmann]: A product of the global public. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung - international edition. Saturday, June 30, 2012 (No. 150), p. 9.
  4. BBC News - WORLD - Clinton's statement on war crimes court. In: December 31, 2000, accessed February 28, 2015 .
  5. ICC website: Review Conference of the Rome Statute ( Memento of the original from November 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ICC website (English): Twelfth session of the Assembly of States Parties ( Memento of the original from December 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Niklaus Nuspliger: Conflict between Kenya and the ICC. NZZ Online, November 29, 2013, accessed on November 30, 2013 .
  8. bill, printed matter 17/10925 of 15 October 2012. Retrieved on 21 February 2014 .