The International Criminal Court and conflict resolution (completed)

Implications of establishing jurisdiction over crimes committed in internal armed conflicts

About the project

This project aims to explore the potential role the International Criminal Court may play in the interaction between international criminal justice, peace processes, and domestic criminal procedures. In other words, how has the prospect of ICC investigations and prosecutions altered national strategies of conflict resolution?


The main objective of this project is to conduct a systematic exploration of ICC procedures and considerations involved in establishing jurisdiction over crimes committed in internal armed conflicts, in order to assess the potential impact ICC intervention may have in the resolution of internal armed conflicts. This analysis will be exemplified by the case of Colombia.


  1. One research report, aprox 40 pages.
  2. One policy recommendations brief, aimed at Norwegian MFA staff active in the area of peace, conflict and reconciliation.
  3. Two academic seminar presentations of the report.
  4. (If requested by the MFA, one seminar presentation of the research report organized by MFA Peace and Reconciliation Unit.)


The adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998 was a milestone in the development of international criminal justice and the fight against impunity. The ICC differs from previous international or internationalised criminal tribunals both by being permanent, and in its mandate to independently investigate and prosecute persons during ongoing conflicts. The Statute came into force in 2002 and has as of date been ratified by 110 state parties.

Reinforced by theintroduction of the ICC, the dynamics of peace-negotiations have been altered. It is no longer acceptable to negotiate peace without including minimum standards of accountability for core international crimes.. In international law, prosecutions are still the preferred form of accountability. Situations currently under investigation by the ICC include cases from ongoing conflict areas, and some have revealed the potential for political interference and the use of prosecutorial discretion in relation to peace negotiations.. This has been illustrated both by the referral of the situation in Northern Uganda and the issuance of the arrest warrant against the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

Thus far, few have explored the potential the ICC has as a positive catalyst for promoting local settlements to avoid international prosecutions,. This may be seen as a side effect of the principle of complementarity whereby domestic judicial processes are favored. According to the Rome Statute the ICC can only obtain jurisdiction if the state party is either unwilling or unable to try perpetrators nationally. This may create incentives for combatants to reach national peace settlements which include prosecutions in order to prevent international prosecutions and the possibility of much harsher sentences. States may also prefer national trials to avoid the embarrassment of being categorised as “unwilling or unable” to conduct proper trials. As a key institution of post-conflict accountability, the ICC may have created incentives to develop local processes of accountability rather than see prosecution abroad.


Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Section for Peace and Reconciliation

Published May 11, 2010 3:09 PM - Last modified Nov. 1, 2012 10:33 AM


Jemima Garcia-Godos


Detailed list of participants