Does the Rome Statute Empower Individuals or Organisations to Trigger the Icc's Jurisdiction?

Topics: International Criminal Court, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan Pages: 23 (7861 words) Published: May 22, 2013
Does the Rome Statute empower individuals or organisations to trigger the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court? Nyirurugo Jean Marie Vianney 1 Abstract Recently, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC has received the complaints from Congolese and Rwandan individual persons and associations, claiming to pursue Rwandan leaders for the crimes reportedly committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Accordingly, this situation raises the issue of whether individual persons or organisations may trigger the ICC’s jurisdiction pursuant to the claims filed to the ICC’s Prosecutor. By looking at the provisions of the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court founding treaty, this paper analyses the role of individuals and organisations in the functioning of the ICC. It argues that, although the ICC’s Prosecutor may decide to open an investigation, acting under his proprio motu powers, on the basis of communications and information he has received from them, individuals, groups, intergovernmental or nongovernmental organisations play no role in triggering the ICC’s jurisdiction rather than providing the mere communications and information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. I. Introduction The latest UN Report, purportedly written by a Group of Experts (GoE), is one of the sources that recently made the headlines about the DR Congo security crisis. In the report, the so-called Group of Experts submits that the Government of Rwanda has been assisting renegade soldiers (M23) in the recent rebel uprising in Eastern DRC through the provision of material and financial support. 2 1


The author of this paper graduated with a Master’s Degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he specialised in Criminal Justice. He is currently serving as an Assistant to National Prosecutors in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Rwanda. His research interests include International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. UN ‘The UN Report on DR Congo: A Response from Rwandan Scholars’ available online at, accessed on 17 October 2012 and MINAFFET, ‘Rwanda’s response to the allegations contained in the addendum to the Un Group of Experts interim report’ available online at accessed on 30 July 2012.

Does the Rome Statute empower individuals or organisations to trigger the jurisdiction of the ICC?


The story of an internal UN report, concluding that Rwanda was providing material support to the M23 rebels in the DRC, was broken for the first time by BBC on 28 May 2012. 3 It was triggered in different newspapers inter alia, New York Times and Financial Times. 4 Following that report, individuals and associations from Congo and opponents of Rwandan Government filed the complaints to the ICC’s Prosecutor on Friday, 17 August 2012. They asked to pursue Rwandan leaders over the alleged involvement in the ongoing rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Accordingly, this situation raises the issue of whether the ICC may exercises its jurisdiction pursuant to the complaints filed to the ICC’s Prosecutor by individual persons or organisations. Before looking at this legal issue, it is important to talk about the ICC’s jurisdiction and its trigger mechanisms. II. Background to the ICC

The post-World War II Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals to prosecute Nazi and Japanese leaders for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity established precedent for other ad hoc international courts and tribunals, such as the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia 5 and for Rwanda. 6 Additionally, the United Nations authorised the creation of a Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) to prosecute those with the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and domestic law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November



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