Terrorism & the ICC
Terrorism is one of the most prevalent crimes threatening the peace and security of the international community today. Yet, this crime eludes the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) jurisdiction.
The ICC was established in 1998 through the implementation of the Rome Statute, to prosecute crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Notably, the ICC cannot prosecute crimes of terrorism as it is not within their jurisdiction.
Part of the reason behind this is due to the difficulty in defining what ‘terrorism’ is. Whilst terrorism can, in the broadest sense, be defined as ‘the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror, or fear, to achieve a financial, political, religious or ideological aim’, it is difficult to say what acts constitute ‘indiscriminate’.
Today, terrorism continues to proliferate with some high profile events seeing acts of genocide, mass executions, sexual slavery, rape, torture and religious cleansing. Terrorism also has an transnational scope, occurring in various parts of the world with attacks in Europe, USA and the Middle East by the same terrorist groups.
In response, international mechanisms are being adopted and ratified in national states in a bid to prevent further terrorist crimes. Such as the Terrorism Financing Convention which has a total of 187 ratified states however there have been very few domestic prosecutions.
However, domestic courts are unable to prosecute terrorism due to the scale and gravity of these acts. Terrorism is also a politically motivated crime where states, rather than individuals, are the targets or sponsors. As such, a mechanism beyond the authority of states is required to prosecute such as the ICC.
The difficulty of prosecuting terrorism has drawn considerable concern from the international community.
In light of the transnational nature of terrorism, should the ICC be given jurisdiction to prosecute terrorism?
Neil Boister, ‘Treaty crimes, International Criminal Court?’
International Policy Digest, ‘International Criminal Court: Successes and failures’
Mark D. Kielsgard, ‘A human rights approach to counter-terrorism’
Herald Sun, ‘Dodgy Australian charities funding terrorist groups: AUSTRAC report’
New York Times, ‘South Africa should have arrested Sudan’s president, I.C.C. rules’
Richard J. Goldstone & Janine Simpson, ‘Evaluating the role of the International Criminal Court as a legal response to terrorism'
Aviv Cohen, ‘Prosecuting terrorists at the International Criminal Court: Re-evaluating an unused legal tool to combat terrorism’
Article 12 of the Rome Statute.