While public international law is primarily concerned with the rights and obligations of States and international organisations, international criminal law is an exception - it is concerned with the rules and principles applying to individuals.
Specific crimes that attract individual responsibility at international law include:
For a concise summary of all War Crimes under the Rome Statute, over which the ICC has jurisdiction, and their source in International Humanitarian Law, see the comparative table produced by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Source: Stephen Hall, Principles of International Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2014) High Use KC 80
The UN Audiovisual Library of International Law's Criminal Law website (open access) contains the full text of all major ICL treaties, and their Travaux Prèparatoires, together with useful introductory summaries, current status of the conventions, photos, and videos.
The ICC Legal Tools database (open access) includes all International Criminal Court Preparatory Works, including Travaux Prèparatoires for amendments to the Rome Statute to include the crime of Aggression.
For Travaux not available online, check the Library catalogue - some are available in print only and are published as books.
Some Travaux are published online and in print form - for example, The Travaux Prèparatoires of the Crime of Aggression is available in the Law Library at KC 218 A4 TRAV, and as an e-book (UniMelb staff & student access), as well as on the ICC Legal Tools database (open access).
Commentaries on the Rome Statute
The following resources provide article by article commentary on all 128 Articles of the Rome Statute. They include relevant case law and academic commentary.
The Commentary on the Law of the International Criminal Court includes the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - a regularly updated open-access database, edited by Dr Mark Klamberg.
International Criminal Law Courts & Cases
Tip: while many decisions may be available on several databases, as listed below, the databases do not replicate each others' content, and they may vary in coverage and search methods - so it is always worth trying several databases. For example, decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are on both the Oxford Reports on International Law and on Westlaw. The Westlaw version is not browseable - it is only searchable by entering search terms, whereas the Oxford version can only be browsed. Both methods may reveal results that the other does not.
Finding decisions from multiple international criminal courts and tribunals with a single search
Finding decisions from individual international criminal courts and tribunals
The International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was created and is governed by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (UNTS 2187, 3). It is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes (Article 5 of the Rome Statute). The ICC is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Decisions of the ICC are available in full text on:
Ad Hoc/ Hybrid Tribunals
Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Case Law Database
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ('MICT') began operating in 2010 in parallel with the ICTR and the ICTY. It will continue to operate after the closure of these two Tribunals. The ICTR closed on 31 December 2015 and the ICTY is expected to close at the end of 2017. More about the MICT.
The UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Case Law Database is a gateway to the jurisprudence of the ICTR, ICTY, and MICT Appeals Chambers. It provides extracts of key judgments and decisions rendered by the ICTR, ICTY, and MICT Appeals Chambers since their inception, as well as to full-text versions of the corresponding appeal judgments and decisions. More about the Case Law Database.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The ICTR was established by the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1994). The ICTR closed on 31 December 2015.
Judgments and other documents regarding each case, such as indictments, minutes and orders, are available on:
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
The ICTY was established by the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (1993).
Judgments are available:
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina - The Bosnian War Crimes Chamber (BWCC)
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a hybrid tribunal - a domestic court of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina that includes international judges and prosecutors. It was established on 3 July 2002 by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the Court include terrorism, war crimes, human trafficking, organised crime and economic crimes.
Decisions of the BWCC are available on the ICC Legal Tools database (open access).
Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established by the 2007 Agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons.
The cases link on official STL website contains all public documents, such as indictments, judgments and transcripts, from all cases at the STL.
Decisions are also available on the ICC Legal Tools database (open access).
The Special Panels for Serious Crimes (SPSC)
The Special Panels of the Dili District Court (also called the East Timor Tribunal) was the hybrid international–East Timorese tribunal that was created in 2000 by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to try cases of 'serious criminal offences' which took place in East Timor in 1999. The Special Panels sat from 2000 to 2006.
Decisions of the SPSC are available on the open access ICC Legal Tools Database.
The Iraq High Tribunal (IHL)
The Iraq High Tribunal was established as a domestic court within the national judicial structure. Unlike other as hoc international criminal courts and tribunals, the IHT was not established by treaty or United Nations resolution. The Tribunal Statute provides jurisdiction for certain international crimes committed by Iraqis during the Ba’athist regime, which lasted from July 1968 to May 2003. Article 10 of the Statute includes crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that were previously unknown to Iraqi law.
Decisions of the SPSC are available on the open access ICC Legal Tools Database.
Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)
The SCSL was established by the Statute for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2002) to address serious crimes against civilians and UN peacekeepers committed during the country's decade-long (1991-2002) civil war. The SCSL was the world's first 'hybrid' international criminal tribunal. The Tribunal has completed all its cases and closed in 2013.
The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) was established by the 2012 Residual Special Court Agreement (Ratification) Act to oversee the continuing legal obligations of the SCSL after its closure. The RSCSL will remain in existence until all sentences have been served. The residual obligations of the Residual Court include witness protection, supervision of prison sentences, and management of the SCSL archives.
The RSCSL website contains the trial transcripts judgments of the Court, together with all official trial documents. Videos and transcripts are also available.
SCSL decisions are also available on:
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)
The 2003 Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the prosecution under Cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea established the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (“Extraordinary Chambers”).
The official ECCC website includes court documents and live courtroom video streaming.
Decisions are also available on:
High Profile ICC Prosecutions
Oxford University Press's free resource, High-profile prosecutions at the International Criminal Court: heads of state, immunities, and arrests, maps scholarly commentary on the international law aspects of a number of high-profile prosecutions at the International Criminal Court, including those of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto, and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. The map looks specifically at questions of immunity, the obligation to arrest and surrender, the impact of Kenya’s possible withdrawal from the Rome Statute, and Ruto’s and Kenyatta’s obligations to be present throughout their trials. It brings together discussions in English-language legal blogs and a selection of journal articles.
Universal jurisdiction is the ability of the court of any State to try persons for crimes committed outside its territory that are not linked to the State by the nationality of the suspect or the victims or by harm to the state’s own national interests.
An example of universal jurisdiction is the trial and conviction of Hissène Habré in 2016 by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal (EAC), in which the Senagalese domestic courts found the former Head of State of Chad criminally responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. These crimes were committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990. The Statute of the Extraordinary African Chambers created the EAC to prosecute these international crimes. It was an ad hoc chamber established within the Senegalese courts by agreement between the African Union and the government of Senegal. More on the trial and its significance from AfricLaw. More on the EAC from the International Justice Monitor.
Amnesty International has published UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION: A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF LEGISLATION AROUND THE WORLD - 2012 UPDATE
Latest International Criminal Law News from the UN
Oxford Bibliographies - International Law provides authoritative encyclopedic entries and annotated bibliographies on a range of topics including international criminal law, crimes against humanity, aggression, torture, genocide, piracy, hybrid international criminal tribunals and international courts.
The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law contains comprehensive and authoritative overviews of all aspects of international law. Entries are arranged alphabetically by topic under broad subjects such as international criminal law and international courts and tribunals.
Online Research Guides
The following useful and up to date research guides are from NYU's Globalex.
Searching through Systems - Research Guide for UN Criminal Tribunals (2017) by Anthony Bestafka-Cruz
The Peace Palace Library's International Criminal Law Research Guides, which includes the following:
Websites & Databases
The ICC Legal Tools database (open access) includes:
A particularly useful feature of this database is national legislation and cases from multiple jurisdictions - the basic documents of the legal systems of national jurisdictions and status of core international crimes; Implementing legislation of national jurisdictions; and National Cases Involving Core International Crimes
The International Criminal Tribunals: A Visual Overview, produced by the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, provides an introduction to the work of the international tribunals and the conflicts which led to their establishment.
The Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, begun in 2014 by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University, seeks to preserve the voices of those individuals who worked to bring justice to Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and who contributed to the development and “institutionalization” of international criminal law during the early years of the ICTY and ICTR. The project aims to evaluate the challenges, successes, and mistakes of the Tribunals and to obtain insights into what the Ad Hoc Tribunals have and have not been able to achieve.
The International Tribunals Archive is organised and managed by the Library of Congress to digitally store relevant websites hosting information about the most important international tribunals created since World War II. More about the Archive.
The UN's Prevention of Genocide website contains detailed information about the role of the UN in the prevention of genocide, key UN documents, General Assembly debates, press releases and current news.
Coalition for the International Criminal Court - The Security Council holds a biannual debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict during which many states and UN officials reiterate the crucial role of the ICC in this effort. This site has documents under the Resolutions and Topics link as well Government and Inter-governmental Documents, NGO Letters, Papers, Reports, and Statements, and NGO Media Statements.
Recent Books on International Criminal Law
International Criminal Law Journals held by the Law Library include:
Recent full text articles and book chapters on SSRN (open access):
Robinson, Darryl, 'A Justification of Command Responsibility' (2017) Criminal Law Forum (Forthcoming)
Baylis, Elena A, 'The Persuasive Authority of Internationalized Criminal Tribunals' (2017) 32 American University International Law Review 611
Behrens, Paul, 'From Abstraction to Intent: The Law of Genocide and Its Insights into the Genocidal Mindset' (Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2017/01, January 30, 2017)
Turner, Jenia Iontcheva, 'Defense Perspectives on Fairness and Efficiency at the International Criminal Court' in Oxford Handbook on International Criminal Law (OUP 2017, Forthcoming)
Bohler-Muller, Narnia & Zongwe, Dunia, 'It is Self-Defeating for Africa (and South Africa) to Withdraw from the International Criminal Court' (2017) 9 Namibia Law Journal
Rossi, Christopher R, 'Hauntings, Hegemony, and the Threatened African Exodus from the International Criminal Court' (May 16, 2017) Human Rights Quarterly, Forthcoming
Megret, Frederic, 'The Subjects of International Criminal Law' in Philip Kastner (ed) International Criminal Law in Context (Taylor and Francis, 2017)
d'Aspremont, Jean, 'The Two Cultures of International Criminal Law' in Oxford Handbook of International Criminal Law (OUP, 2017, forthcoming)