Plans of the Registrar of the ICC

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The Rome Statute created an international legal/judicial system to prosecute and try the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the crime of aggression when defined (hereinafter international crimes). The primary responsibility for these prosecutions and trials lies with national jurisdictions, and only when national courts are either unwilling or unable to prosecute does the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (hereinafter the Court) arise.

As the Court develops, the current reality of this system is setting in. Many of the states over which the Court has asserted its jurisdiction are states that do not have the capacity to conduct fair national proceedings. This stands to reason as much conflict literature has identified the lack of rule of law as a cause for the commission of atrocities. Further, the Court does not have the capacity to handle but a few of the most serious cases in each situation country. What has been identified as an impunity gap is a real prospect as many national systems do not have the capacity to process international crimes committed by subordinates, where their leaders are being tried before the Court. The long term solution is clearly to develop national legal systems so that they can conduct fair and genuine trials for international crimes.