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Complementary jurisdiction and international criminal justice

31-03-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 845, by Oscar Solera


Oscar Solera
is a Ph.D candidate in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Assistant at the Law Department of the University of Geneva. The author would like to thank Professor Georges Abi-Saab for his precious comments on the first draft of this article. 

This article analyses the development of the notion of complementary jurisdiction proposed by the International Law Commission and adopted in the Statute of the International Criminal Court with a view to strengthening the criminal justice system and preventing impunity. It gives an account of the substantive discussions which took place within the International Law Commission, the Ad Hoc Committee set up by the General Assembly to review the draft proposed by the Commission, and the UN Preparatory Committee for the establishment of an international criminal court. The result obtained in Rome is, above all, the outcome of the agreement by States on the international community’s need for a permanent international judicial body with the task of ruling on individual responsibility relating to crimes of an international nature. However, this body must give precedence to the competent national jurisdiction, and only in default thereof should it intervene to avoid impunit y.  

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