Paris: Was the first decade of the ICC a more just one?

By: /
16 April, 2012
By: Erna Paris
Award-winning author, journalist, and historian

Because the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court, it has had to establish itself as an institution to be reckoned with globally. I think the first prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, will be remembered for having created a strong profile for the tribunal and for having secured the support of the Security Council.

Was the decade a more just one? It would take more than a few words to parse that adequately. The ICC is structurally flawed: it has no police force and is dependent upon its states parties to deliver indicted individuals. It is a judicial institution operating in a seething political environment. These realities mean that some powerful indictees, like Sudan’s al-Bashir, are still at large and publicly flouting the court. I think the tribunal will always be controversial; in fact, high decibel levels of opposition probably indicate its growing influence. Securing a conviction at the Lubanga trial did set a precedent about the use of children in war and certainly sent out a message about accountability. Justice after a decade of the ICC remains frail and partial, but the trend is positive. The next several years will be critical.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 


Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter