The ICC under Political Pressure:
Towards Lowered Expectations of Global Justice
Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations into the
2007–2008 post-election violence in Kenya, in which some 1,200 people were
killed and several hundred thousand displaced. The ICC is breaking new ground
with the Kenyan cases; for the first time sitting heads of state are facing
charges before the Court.
response to the proceedings has involved a number of political and judicial
measures. It has obstructed the work of the Court; it has sought deferral of
the cases by the Security Council; and it has threatened the ICC with mass
objection to the trials has gained regional support and renewed strength for
the claim that the Court has an anti-African bias. Its claims that the Court
should not prosecute state leaders because of concerns over regional peace and
security have been met with understanding. The Security Council has, however,
refused to suspend the trials.
political attack against the ICC will have broader implications for the Court.
The Court will need to reconsider how it protects witnesses, safeguards
evidence, and selects cases for prosecution. It may even have to retreat from
the principle of prosecuting sitting heads of state.
expectations placed upon the ICC as an institution of global justice have been
unrealistic. The current international political climate will not further this
goal. Major powers remain outside the Court and the current Ukrainian crisis
will make it hard to agree upon Security Council referrals.