ICC marks 20th anniversary with high-level conference


Today, 1 July 2022, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”) hosted a high-level conference in The Hague (The Netherlands) to mark the institution’s 20th anniversary. The conference “The ICC at 20: Reflections on the past, present and future” gathered close to 300 participants in The Hague, including representatives of international organizations and tribunals, bar associations, States, academia and civil society, as well as thousands of viewers across the globe from the YouTube live webstreaming.

Speakers discussed the Court’s achievements in its first two decades, specific aspects of the ICC’s operations, and areas in need of further development in the international criminal justice system going forward.

“The ICC has come an incredibly long way in these twenty years,” stated ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmański in his opening remarks. “The ICC’s jurisprudence has broken new ground on matters such as the use of child soldiers, destruction of cultural heritage, and the participation of victims in the judicial proceedings… In this exceptionally busy year, today’s conference offers us a brief moment to stop and reflect on the path the ICC has travelled so far,” he stated.

The keynote speaker of the conference, former ICC President and Chair of the Rome Conference of 1998, where the ICC’s Rome Statute was adopted, Judge Philippe Kirsch emphasised “Whether the ICC could be created today is an open question. Without a doubt, the need certainly is unfortunately still there. Allegations of crimes under the Rome Statute are staggering, including in forms that we all believed belonged to the past. It is equally clear that some national systems are indeed unwilling or unable to ensure their repression, when they are not part themselves in their commission. … Therefore, as we mark the 20th anniversary, there is good reason to celebrate the fact that the ICC was created when it was possible, and in a way that allowed bringing the great majority of states into the system.”

In Session 1, “From the crimes to the courtroom,” the panel of experts focused on the first – and often less visible – phase of any ICC case’s lifespan, from the earliest reports of crimes through preliminary examinations and investigations to arrest warrants and the confirmation – or not – of charges. During Session 2, “Lifecycle of an ICC case,” a panel of experts examined steps of the ICC process, including trial, verdict, appeals, victim participation and reparation, and enforcement of sentences. In Session 3, “Looking back and looking forward,” panellists shared reflections on the past and the future of the ICC and the international criminal justice system more broadly.

The conference sessions can be replayed online on the ICC YouTube Channel. After the conference, an edited volume based on the proceedings will be published by an academic press.

The International Criminal Court would like to express its appreciation to the European Commission, as well as to the Embassy of the French Republic in The Netherlands and the Municipality of The Hague for the financial support provided for this conference.

Photographs of the conference

Background: The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court. Adopted on 17 July 1998, the international treaty entered into force on 1 July 2002, thereby officially creating the Court. Today, over 120 countries are party to this treaty and are actively supporting the Court.

The International Criminal Court is the first permanent international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.

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