International criminal law has developed dramatically since the early 1990s, and now consists of a complex system involving national courts with international participation, alternative transitional justice mechanisms like truth commissions, and temporary or ad hoc international courts. The International Criminal Court sits at the centre of this. This course reviews the origins of international criminal law, its relationship with the international legal order including the UN Security Council and its coexistence with national justice institutions. The scope of international crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression – is considered alongside initiatives to expand or add to these categories.
This course examines the mechanisms and institutions available in international law to hold individuals legally accountable for acts amounting to international crimes, focusing on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the role of national jurisdictions. The first part of the course will cover issues concerning the institutional framework of the ICC, such as the scope and ambit of the ICC jurisdiction, the complementary of the ICC to national jurisdictions, and the relationship between the ICC and the United Nations Security Council. The second part of the course will analyse the principles and rules of international law on the repression of international crimes by national jurisdictions, with a specific emphasis on universal criminal jurisdiction and the so-called aut dedere aut iudicare principle. Ultimately, the course intends to provide participants with a solid understanding of the existing pluralistic system of international accountability for international crimes and of its main challenges.