The International Criminal Court and Courts of Non-State Armed Groups: Always uncomplimentary?

PluriCourts Lunch Seminar with Joanna Nicholson.

Non-state armed groups (NSAG) frequently establish courts. The reasons for this vary: a NSAG may gain control over territory and feel compelled to provide governance functions, for example; or it may create a court system to help it gain legitimacy within the local population;  or it may simply need to establish courts to maintain discipline within the group itself.  These courts can deal with a variety of issues, including internal disciplinary matters, civil disputes and common crimes. They may also consider crimes that are connected to the armed conflict and, more particularly, crimes involving conduct that could amount to international crimes, namely, war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. This raises questions concerning the interplay between courts of NSAG and international criminal law (ICL). This paper considers this interplay in relation to the only permanent international criminal institution, the International Criminal Court (ICC). It explores whether there are occasions when the ICC is required to give legal recognition to decisions of courts of NSAG and what circumstances would have to exist in order for this to be so.


PluriCourt Seminars are a forum for pluridisciplinary discussion of core issues relating to international courts and tribunals. PluriCourts scholars or invited speakers present new and ongoing research or comment on current questions. The seminars are open to everyone.

Tags: Criminal law
Published Feb. 18, 2019 2:05 PM - Last modified Sep. 25, 2019 10:29 AM