International Criminal Law (ICL) is a relatively new and constantly evolving branch of international common law. Also it can be traced back to the “Nuremberg and Tokyo” military courts, after the end of WWII. ICL variously defined and analyzed, this law is considered an area of international law, prohibits certain types of behavior, governs the procedures for investigating, prosecuting and punishing such behavior, and holds defendants personally responsible for their actions.
This branch of international common law deals with international crimes, such as; genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of hostility. One of the basic principles of this law is that it seeks to hold individuals responsible for committing international crimes, not just countries or parties. Meanwhile, it does not provide governmental immunity, meaning that regardless of a person’s role in his or her government, whether an ambassador or foreign minister, head of state or prime minister, they can all be held guilty of individual responsibility under international criminal law. For example, former Serbian President Slobdan Milosevic was charged with war crimes against Bosnian Muslims in the Balkans in the 1990s.
The International Criminal Court is divided into two classes:
Permanent Courts; The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the only permanent court established in the world. This court has the mandate to investigate and try cases from around the world, but its authority is limited to those countries that have accepted jurisdiction. For example, the United States does not recognize the power of the International Criminal Court; thus, neither its government nor its citizens are subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Special or temporary courts; these courts deal with specific national and international conflicts and crimes committed by the armed parties involved. They have temporary mandates, which are revoked after accomplishing their goals.
The most famous courts include the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, which tried and condemned German military and political leaders after World War II, and the International Military Tribunal for the East, known as the Tokyo Tribunal. Currently, special courts such as the Lebanese Special Court are still working.
When it comes to individual responsibility, it is not only about the individuals who committed the crime. It can be divided into three main categories, which we will focus on here:-
Direct defendants; All persons who commit war or other illegal crimes are often called direct defendants. These are the soldiers who committed the crime under the orders and influence of someone.
The superiors who have orders; these direct their support to participate in illegal activities, such as the commander ordering his soldiers to carry out a bombing.
The fundamentally powerful people who have allowed this illegal behavior to continue, which are military or government officials who knew their subordinates were doing something illegal, but fail to stop them.
General Principles of Law
The source of these principles may be national or international law, such as the principle of non-convocation of judges against the same case, the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the principle of self-determination.
“The decision of the courts”
It is another way of showing that international criminal law is different from domestic regulation, becoming a source for this law. Any cases or opinions issued by other international criminal courts or other international courts are not binding on any particular international court, but they are convincing, this means that they can be used as a starting point for decisions by the courts.