Victims’ Participation at the Internatinal Criminal Court: Are Concessions of the Court Clouding the Promise?

Chung, Christine H. | January 1, 2008

The International Criminal Court (the “ICC”), the world’s first permanent international criminal tribunal, is the first international criminal tribunal to grant to victims the right to participate in court proceedings, through their own representatives. This article, which is authored by a former ICC trial attorney, examines the ICC’s actual performance in providing victims’ participation in the Court’s first years of operation. The article posits, in part through statistical analysis, that the processing of applications to participate is consuming substantial Court resources while yielding participation for very few victims. The article attributes this failing to the readiness of the Pre-Trial and Trial Chambers to expand the participation right beyond the boundaries intended by the ICC’s creators, without agreeing on the standards for participation. The consequences, the article argues, have included the impairment of the efficiency of ICC proceedings, the undermining of defense rights, and the inability of most victims to obtain more than a theoretical right to participate. The article proposes means of strengthening the ICC victims’ participation framework and suggests ways in which victims and victims’ representatives might better vindicate the interests of victims of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction.