The United Nations has been considering the establishment of a permanent international criminal court since its creation. After years of negotiations, a Diplomatic Conference was held from 15 June to 17 July 1998 in Rome which finalised and adopted the Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Statute was finally adopted by a vote where 120 were in favour, 7 against and 21 abstained.
The establishment of an ICC represents a major progress for better implementation of international humanitarian law and a clear step forward in the battle against impunity. Hence, for the Court to be truly effective, a very large number of States must ratify the Statute.
The ICC will be established in the Hague and will have jurisdiction over suspected perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or aggression, including superiors or military commanders. The Court may exercise its jurisdiction, if the State on the territory of which the act or omission occurred or the State of nationality of the suspect is Party to the Statute or has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. The Prosecutor can refer cases proprio motu ( on his/her own initiative). The Court has not a retroactive effect.
The ICC is not intended to take over jurisdiction exercised by national courts: the ICC is intended to exercise its jurisdiction only when the state is unwilling or genuinely unable to prosecute. States continue to have the primary duty to prosecute suspected war criminals before theirs own courts.