Spring Lecture Series 2012: The International Criminal Court’s Second Decade: Quo Vadis?

Ten years ago, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, entered into force. Since then, the Court has made important strides forward in becoming an important player in the international criminal justice arena. With nearly 120 member states, seven situations referred under the three different referral mechanisms envisioned in the Rome Treaty, and several more under consideration, it is difficult to dismiss the Court as irrelevant in the global governance architecture.

However, as it embarks on the second decade of its existence, the Court faces difficult challenges and determined efforts by some attempting to delegitimize and politicize it, thereby undermining its ability to carry out its mandate to bring about an end to impunity. Foremost among these challenges are:

  • Finding new ways to move forward State and Non-State Party Cooperation with the ICC
  • Ensuring proper implementation of victim participation and reparation regime in the Rome Treaty
  • Paying sufficient attention to the prosecution of gender-based crimes
  • Determining how the Court will handle its relationship with the UN Security Council as well as several emerging powers

Against this background, several policy makers, academics, Court officials, and civil society representatives will come together over the course of four lecture series under the auspices of the Institute for European Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) in cooperation with the Global Governance Institute to debate and suggest how to best deal with the aforementioned issues. By sharing their concerns and best practices, we hope to make an important contribution to ensuring the success of the Court as it begins its journey into its new decade. Chatham House rules apply.


24 February 2012: Opening Session // 12:30 - 14:00
The spring lecture series 2012 will be kicked off by a keynote speech by judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert. Given her impressive academic and judicial experience and her insider's view, she is the perfect person to launch the lecture series on the future of the International Criminal Court (ICC). She will reflect on the main challenges faced by the ICC in its first decade and suggest the best way forward to tackle them as the Court is entering the second decade of its existence.

7 March 2012: Cooperation // 12:00 - 14:00
There is ongoing concern about the relationship between the Court and African states, as well as the lack of forthcoming cooperation by other member and non-member states with regards to the execution of arrest warrants and penalties, freezing of assets, information sharing, etc. In most of these cases, much work needs to be done by both Court officials as well as government representatives to ensure cooperation becomes a more stable pillar as the Court moves forward.

28 March 2012: Victim Participation // 12:00 - 14:00
While the Rome Statute is a landmark document with regards to victims’ rights and participation, the Court’s record to date leaves much to be desired. Not only that, but many have begun to question the wisdom and feasibility of the victim participation and reparation regime in the international criminal justice fora in general, and in particular, as envisioned under the Rome Statute. Whether a workable participation and reparation regime can be worked out, will have an effect on how the Court is perceived by its stake-holders, including victims and affected communities.

27 April 2012: Gender Rights // 12:00 - 14:00
An important contribution of the Rome Statute is the enshrining and protection against gender- based crimes in the body of international criminal law. Moreover, the Statute guarantees unprecedented gender equality within the Court’s several organs. Nevertheless, while significant progress has been made in the latter, the prosecution of gender-based crimes has been often decried by civil society members as receiving insufficient attention. Clearly, more needs to be done to allay such concerns.

16 May 2012: The Politics of the International Criminal Court // 12:00 - 14:00
How the Court will handle its relationship with the UN Security Council as well as several emerging powers, including Brazil, India, and South Africa, will determine whether the Court will be able to be perceived as a legitimate actor in its own right, or as just another political tool in the hands of powerful and at times unaccountable states. This risk of politicization has been greatly increased subsequent to the agreement in Kampala on the crime of aggression. As events in Sudan and Libya demonstrate, these risks of politicization are very real and risk undermining the image of the ICC as an independent and impartial institution.

Registration & Venue

Participation is free of charge and open to all but, due to space limitations, registration is required. All lectures will be preceded by a lunch reception. Register!

Institute for European Studies
Karel Van Miert Building
Conference Room Rome & Lisbon
Pleinlaan 5
1050 Brussels

- Mathias Holvoet: mathias.holvoet@vub.ac.be
- Medlir Mema: mmema@gwu.edu
- Joachim Koops: jkoops@globalgovernance.eu