The Independence of the Prosecutor

Controversy in the Creation of the International Criminal Court

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The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a singular, even revolutionary, achievement. Uniquely within the realm of international criminal justice, the ICC prosecutor can initiate investigations independently of any state’s wishes.

Why would sovereign states agree to such sweeping powers? The Independent Prosecutor draws on interviews with key participants to answer that question. Case studies of Canada and the United Kingdom, which supported prosecutorial independence, and the United States and Japan, which opposed it, demonstrate that state positions depended on the values and principles of those who wielded the most power in national capitals at the time. Appendices provide a record of the arguments made by state delegations in the negotiations that produced the institutional design of the court.

This astute investigation demonstrates that now, over twenty years after its establishment, the innovative arrangement of having an independent prosecutor continues to move international law forward and directly combat impunity for mass atrocities.